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New Roxbury mural celebrates Latinx women

Celina Colby
Celina Colby is an arts and travel reporter with a fondness for Russian novels.... VIEW BIO
New Roxbury mural celebrates Latinx women
“Pa*Lante” by muralist Rixy is on view at 301 Highland St. in Roxbury. COURTESY PHOTO

A powerful new Latinx figure has joined the Roxbury community, depicted in a new mural “Pa*Lante” by local artist Rixy on the side of a residential building at 301 Highland St.

Rixy grew up just a few blocks from the mural site and says the public art piece is her ode to the vibrant, diverse neighborhood that shaped her.

“I’m a cartoonist at heart,” says Rixy. “A lot of the work I do … is a lot of murals and contemporary work around stylized femme empowerment, highlighting different women, beauty and power, especially women of color, and culture.”

Pa’lante is a rallying cry of “onward” in Spanish slang, and the “Pa*Lante” mural depicts a Latinx woman and her canine sidekick working their way toward the fictional land of Cúcala. Here Rixy’s cartoonist background shines. The artist spent almost a year in the Now + There’s Public Art Accelerator program developing the storyline and logistical assets for the mural. During that time, she did a lot of work with the community and thought deeply about the character and the journey she depicts in the mural.

Cúcala is a fictional promised land that represents emotional healing. Rixy’s heroine must combat Latin machismo, generational trauma and other challenges to get to the end goal: a sense of peace, stability and healing. This is the journey that Rixy herself and many other women of color navigate on a daily basis.

For the artist, this piece and its site are particularly significant. “The building is owned by women of color, the area is in between two very cultured parts of Roxbury, and that’s where I grew up,” she says. “It’s across from the elementary school, the parks I went to, it’s Latino, it’s everything out here in that corner.”

Rixy was able to spend more time with this concept than is typical in her mural-making process. Because the Accelerator program encourages artists and provides them with the resources to work on a project long-term, she was able to conceptualize the piece deeply and have unfettered artistic freedom for her vision. As a result, the piece is deeply personal. Her artistic practice is Rixy’s own form of healing; she’s been on a journey of emotional development just like her character. She hopes the mural inspires others in the community to push forward, pa’lante!

“Having public art that’s free and accessible and in our own communities is a gift to ourselves,” says Rixy, “getting to share community and share light together.”

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