The “Mandamientos” series became a way to reclaim a certain form of agency — both for La Jaxx and the women seeing her pieces.
“The mandamientos were for both men and women, but, to me, it was important to empower women with them,” says La Jaxx. “That’s basically la meta. For a woman to be walking by and it speaking to her in such a way that it empowers her.”
The series also serves as a way for La Jaxx to insert more of her voice into the public art landscape. La Jaxx saw a lack of female voices in public art, and she wanted to change that. The topics she addresses — sexuality, marriage, relationships, self-worth — are rarely talked about in Latino communities, not to mention in public and on the streets.
“Street art and graffiti was always a male thing, you know? You’d have boys going out at night and spray painting, not girls,” says La Jaxx. “The minority is women. So what you have in the streets, the messaging was always more created by men. My legs and all my icons are always very feminine.”
The signature legs paired with these quotes symbolize women, though you can’t see her face or any other identifying features. She only wears a pair of of high heels, sometimes all-black and other times with a distinct pattern. The figure seems defiant even while her identity is obscured.
For La Jaxx, though, the message is not to focus purely on anger but rather it’s to embrace femininity and to recognize a sense of self-worth.
“It’s more of a celebration than oppression,” says La Jaxx. “It comes more from gratefulness than from oppression. My voice always comes from being happy we’re women, celebrating we’re women.”
And while the artist recalls having many great conversations with men and women alike, not all the reactions are positive. People have defaced some of the pieces. On one occasion, a friend told La Jaxx that a policeman was trying really hard to remove one of her pieces in New York.
“He was hating it,” says La Jaxx. “I love that. I love what happens, the conversation ... and people sending me pictures after what happens, people writing over them, or what they comment, it’s amazing.”
The artist has now completed 30 commandments, 20 of which have gone up on the streets. In order to spread the project, she posted a PDF of the commandments (specifically the ones she created) for others to print and post in their own towns.
Some see her as a rebel — “they always joke around ‘ah ella es la feminista,’” she says — but that doesn’t deter her from creating her work. “My grandmother wouldn’t understand why I would do something like that,” La Jaxx adds.
Now living in Colombia with her two daughters, she hopes to continue the project for as long as she can. For her, there will always be plenty of commandments to post on the street.