Rafael Rodriguez El Primer Muro/The First Wall

By East City Art Editorial Team on June 26, 2024
Rafael Rodriguez El Muro


Artist Talk: Saturday, July 6 at 4pm


Rafael Rodriguez will discuss his solo exhibition of paintings at Rhizome DC titled El Primer Muro / The First Wall.

In ancient civilizations, people moved from one place to another in search of new horizons. But as we move towards a “civilized society”, we are losing the rights to look for a better life.

My artwork explores the criminalization of undocumented immigrants, which is mostly based on my own experiences as an undocumented immigrant. Most of my ideas for my artwork come from a combination of memories of my journey when I came to the United States and the emotions that I feel while facing present obstacles. My artwork narrates the stories of many other immigrants with similar experiences. We face many challenges starting the day that we decide to leave everything behind to go to an unknown land and immerse ourselves in a different culture. We leave our beloved homes in search of a life where we can at least have basic human needs. Once we arrive at the “land of dreams”, we are criminalized and the system labels us as “Illegal Aliens”. Moving from one place to another to look for a better life should be a fundamental human right. However, the system is designed to keep us out, but we are here and we have always been here.

Rafael was born in Santa Rosa de Lima, a small town in El Salvador, and raised between the villages Copetillo and La Joya. He went to the schools in Canton Copetillo Caserio La Ermita and Canton La Joya. In 2013, He decided that he needed to move to the United States so that he could find a safe place far from violence. He arrived at Maryland and enrolled in Northwestern High School. He discovered his love for art when he took Art 1 class in his sophomore year, and this led to being part of the Visual and Performing Arts Program. In his senior year, he attended the CreativeWorks job training program at Joe’s Movement Emporium. He graduated from Northwestern in May 2017, and he apprenticed at Art on the Block during the summer then he worked as a studio manager. The art that he creates not only reflects his life as an individual but also the lives of many other immigrants in this country who work hard towards their dreams. He graduated from Montgomery Community College, Studies Studio Art with a Minor in US Latina/o Studies at University of Maryland, teaches visual art at Joe’s Movement Emporium and has a studio at Red Dirt Studios. His goal is to become an art professor, and contribute through the arts, to make a better place for the youth who are still in El Salvador. He hopes to keep creating art about immigration injustices, and keep exploring different art forms.

Rhizome DC
6950 Maple St NW
Washington DC 20012


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