MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – D’Sean Perry was a linebacker at the University of Virginia who liked Greek mythology, basketball, and art.
His family started noticing his passion for drawing at a young age.
“I noticed as a child, that was his way of expressing himself,” said father Sean Perry. “Once he got to high school it kind of took off. He started doing pottery - more advanced artwork.”
“He wanted sketchbooks and art materials; it went on from there,” added his mother, Happy Perry.
As his interest in learning about art grew, the former Gulliver Preparatory student started having big dreams of showing one day at Art Basel.
“He was infatuated with the art. He was trying to figure out a way to get one of his pieces in the art show,” Happy Perry said.
College instructor Victoria Valdes, who manages 3-D projects and printing at the University of Virginia, said Perry was a gifted student.
“It made it a joy to teach that class. He was immediately asking really great questions,” she said. “He was asking how to push it further, how to do things that were on a level that I wouldn’t really expect from an introductory level student.”
On Nov. 13, Perry, 22, was one of three people killed in a shooting while on a bus returning from a field trip with other UVA students after a field trip to Washington, D.C.
Suspect Christopher Jones, a student who was once on the UVA football roster, faces three charges of second-degree murder and three counts of using a handgun in the commission of a felony, UVA Police Chief Timothy Longo Sr. said.
As the investigation continues, Perry’s phone and laptop remain in evidence, Happy Perry said. She believes much of her son’s digital art and designs are on those devices.
The University did send the family some of Perry’s other artwork, however, including a 3-D printed self-portrait collage. Valdes said it was inspired by the Greek mythological character Icarus. But when the sculpture is turned around, there is a small image that is revealed on the back.
It is an image of Perry’s mother, a constant source of stability and inspiration.
“Me on his back,” Happy Perry said. “I had it, but I didn’t see me in the back - until [Valdes] explained it to me.”
The template for Perry’s sculpture is also being used by other artists to continue his legacy. Student Jay Pendarvis shared with Local 10 a giant wing sculpture make from Perry’s original design.
A shield was also crafted from Perry’s initial image.
The Perry family will attend this year’s graduation ceremony in Charlottesville to accept a diploma on their son’s behalf. The University and the art department is also planning to honor Perry with memorials.
“I just want people to know that D’Sean just wanted to help and encourage other people,” Sean Perry said.