The streets can be an unsafe and unwelcoming space for women, and street art, while often criminalized, can be a powerful method for us to speak out.
Colombia-born Jacqueline Brandwayn, more commonly known en las calles as La Jaxx, created a series called “Mandamientos” to empower women through public art. With a background in graphic design, the artist creates eye-catching pieces mostly centered on her black-and-white aesthetic.
Her trademark leg pieces have gained her attention in art circles both in Latin America and the U.S. Influenced by artists like Barbara Kruger, Andy Warhol, Shepard Fairey and Maya Hayuk, she brings together sensibilities from multiple visual spheres: advertising, graphic design and street art among them.
The “Mandamientos” series started with phrases from Vicky Form, a Mexico-based lingerie brand. The company ran a contest asking fans to submit phrases, which resulted in ten different commandments. La Jaxx turned these into pieces that she pasted on the streets, crediting the brand online.
She then came up with 20 more commandments, some based on input from her fans. Overall, the series contains phrases like, “la relación más importante que tengo es la que tengo conmigo misma” (“the most important relationship I have is the one I have with myself”). The commandments aren’t just in Spanish, either. English phrases like “the only who can define my self-worth is me” are also included, and some can be found in U.S. cities like New York.
Though she grew up in Latin America, it wasn’t until La Jaxx spent some time in Amsterdam that she realized the rampant machismo of many Latin American countries. As a teenager, she noticed her brothers could go out around age 13 but she had to wait until 16. Even recently, she spoke with a friend who was told to “tone it down” and not speak about certain things if she wanted to get married.
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