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Painting dedicated to late father stolen at OU while artist was at mother’s funeral

NORMAN, Okla. - A University of Oklahoma student is heartbroken after her beloved painting was stolen on campus.

It was a piece she had painted to honor her late father. To make matters worse, it was stolen while she was out of town for her mother's funeral.

This happened after a student art show on Mother's Day weekend at Fred Jones Museum of Art.

Afterward, the pieces were brought back to the art school. That's where the suspect made off with multiple pieces including one that meant so much to one of the victims.

"If you look at it, it's how I imagine looking through your eyes when you're crying," said Briana Harris. "You can't quite see because everything's so blurry, but I see color, and I see love and I see life - through all the blur and all the tears."

Harris is a visual arts student at OU, but she didn't take the traditional route to get there. After years of hard work in the fast food industry, the loss of her father spurred her to pursue her dreams.

"I just remember that day, crying," she said. "He always wanted me to finish art."

During her time at the school, she found art as a form of therapy, particularly in the painting.

"When I did it, it was kind of like a release," Harris said. "It was kind of like a 'Here's to you.'"

That release - soon met with more pain. Not long before the art show, Harris lost her mother.

She said the piece was so personal to her she was hesitant to submit it. However, when she saw the emotional reaction at the show, she knew she did the right thing.

"It was almost just finishing something that they wanted me to finish for so long in my life," Harris said.

Harris said it was a gut-punch to have the work stolen while she was grieving the loss of a second parent but, despite that, has a message of kindness for whoever is responsible.

"If it's helping somebody and they're a better person for it, then I could probably be okay with them having it," she said. "But, just to simply ask me, you know, 'Can I have this?' would be priceless."

The art was taken during a scheduled pick-up time for students. Harris was unable to make it due to the funeral.

OU police are investigating the theft of all the art taken.

Harris said the university has been very helpful through the difficult situation.