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The Hispanic history I carry with me: Rixy

A Beautiful Resistance celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month and Latino joy, as told to Jeneé Osterheldt

The beautiful resistance of multidisciplinary artist and muralist, Roxbury's own Rixy.Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff

Art for her started as a journal.

Before Rixy’s paintings — neon and nearly animated with a specific soulful brilliance and sultry boldness — covered walls from Worcester to Allston, her work was always a reflection of herself and the women in her life.

Her work is explorations of identity, about the women who raised her and the women who she calls friends. Women of Honduran Garifuna and Dominican Caribeñe, women of Roxbury, women of Las Vegas. Women of color who survived and thrived.

“I used artwork as a mirror, trying to find my identity,” Rixy said. “Once I started putting confidence in myself and the women around me, the more I wanted to embody that beauty and power. For me and the women I know, these are the superheroes.”

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Learn more about Rixy, an artist and art teacher, at rixyfz.com.

My life is a beautiful resistance because I think it has bloomed from survival, from the survival of my lineage, from my family. I don’t like to necessarily glorify the struggle, but at the same time, I can’t erase it. My life is a beautiful resistance because of survival, and the tactics we had to use to bring ourselves here and make sure we are present through all of these shifts.

The Hispanic history I carry with me is between vigor and resiliency. When I think about my heritage, I think about immigration. I think about what my family has done to bring us here, the story of my ancestors and what they have gone through. At the same time, our culture is so vibrant and beautiful and it isn’t knocking anyone down. It’s interesting how we can be with so much color, music, food, family and love, yet the migrations we have gone through are hard.

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Rixy paints women of color in bold colors with a sense of self and a mission to empower.JAYPIX

What gives you joy?

Safety and security. Something about being able to see my loved ones happy and safe and health right now, that’s really bringing me joy. More than anything, seeing people be able to lean into themselves and take care of themselves as hard as it is, gives me joy. What gives me joy is making dinner for my. mom, having my friends over for a good time, and the art I create.

Describe the role art has as a powerful tool of representation and space-holding.

In my form of public art, we’re really reiterating stories of our community. As fantastical and surreal and stylized as the art can be, it can look like a whole dream, and we’re reflecting our inner dialogues, the stories we have experienced.

Art has a really beautiful way, at least for me personally, of reinterpreting life. I put things in a cartoon, stylized way so I can interpret what is going on. It creates a lot more inner peace to be able to let it out in a healthy organized way of artmaking and shows people they are here. Being able to represent and create based on my culture, my family, to say we’re here and we’re beautiful. You can’t ignore public art.

"Tea Time with Princess B” a 2020 mural by Rixy in Lawrence.Rixy

What inspired you to become an artist?

At first, I was really looking at art as a safe haven for myself. I went into art because it was where I could talk to myself and understand parts of myself when I was alone. The conversations I was having internally were the same as the conversations other people were having.

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Art is almost an international language. We can all be sharing the same dialogue without saying many words. To create is such a superpower. It drives me so much to know that I have the power to keep dialogue going.

You center women of color in your work. How did that become your passion and mission?

Knowing those stories of the women in my life and what they had to go through? They deserve the biggest spotlight possible, these bold ass women. The more life is going on I realize the toxicity that looks to limit our identities and I wanted to break that mold. The social impact became so therapeutic and empowering.

Follow her on Instagram: @rixyfz.

Every week over the next month, A Beautiful Resistance will hold space in recognition of Hispanic Heritage Month and Latino joy. Follow us on Instagram @abeautifulresistance.


Jeneé Osterheldt can be reached at jenee.osterheldt@globe.com. Follow her @sincerelyjenee and on Instagram @abeautifulresistance.