Hannah Michelle Bussa
Rosalia Alexis graduated from UNO this spring with a degree in Studio Art with a concentration in Graphic Design and a minor in Black Studies. She opened up about how she has grown as an artist.
“Art has always been a way for me to showcase my voice,” she explained. “I always want to show beauty within diversity in my art and portraits that I do.”
Alexis has a mission in the art that she creates: to create diversity.
“Focusing on Black and brown people in my work is the goal because it shows that art does not need to lack diversity. Back at UNO while taking my many required art history classes, it was rare for me to see paintings with Black people as the central subject of a ‘beautiful portrait.’ The majority of paintings from centuries past have been thin, white women and that was the standard of beauty for so many people. If there were Black or other people of color, they were in the background and shown as maids, servants, what have you – never in the spotlight.”
This February, Alexis made a challenge for herself to put the spotlight on Black leaders every day during Black History Month.
“When you hear about civil rights leaders, or abolitionists from slavery times, or even the activists that are working today, there are maybe three or four familiar names people can recognize, not knowing there are so many others that also helped to shape their respective movements and got us to where we are today,” she said.
“While there’s still so much work to be done, understanding that most of these people risked their lives and so many other things to get the rights we have today is very important to me. I am planning to continue to do more drawings next February for Black History Month with a whole new set of leaders and activists to show the vast number of names that still need to be known,” Alexis explained.
Alexis reflected on the leaders and activism she has seen this summer: “This summer has furthered my passion for art and allowed myself to get my art more into the world. Before, I admit I was a bit humble and shy to put my art into the world, but I think now is an important time to with the climate in America and Omaha at the moment.”
Alexis has found her voice in her artwork.
“I’ve been to protests, I’ve seen and heard horrible things take place, and it’s gotten me to a place where I feel I need to be more active in the community as a whole, and if that starts with me making art, then so be it. Being mixed, Black and white, I recognize I have more privilege, so I do not ever want to take anything away from fully Black creatives in Omaha, but I do hope I can humbly share my art and showcase the beauty that is diversity in a portrait and other types of art I do.”
Alexis also does graphic design. After the grand jury recommended charges relating to the death of James Scurlock, her brother asked her to make a design with the message, “Keep That Same Energy.”
“It is important for us in Omaha to keep up the fight and energy towards this case that has devastated many, including myself, Alexis said. “Having bright colors and moving parts showcases that we need to keep focus and to have the same passion for all cases and injustices similar to this one.”
You can support Alexis by following her on Instagram at @ailasorsixela.