A mural honoring Rita Hester, in all her glam, is coming to Allston this month

“I just instantly felt like that was exactly what I was looking for, the opportunity to speak more on complex women-identifying issues and narratives."

A rendering of the design for the Rita Hester mural. Rixy

A wall in Allston is about to become a lot more colorful.

Next week, mural artist Rixy will begin the process of painting an image of Rita Hester on the Mayfair Foods building at 506 Cambridge Street.

The mural is designed to celebrate the life and legacy of Hester, a Black trans woman who was murdered in Allston in 1998. Her murder, which still hasn’t been solved, sparked the creation of the Transgender Day of Remembrance, which is observed annually on Nov. 20.

For Rixy, highlighting a trans person of color who tragically lost their life was part of the reason she applied for the mural, which is a part of the city’s Transformative Public Art Program.


“I just instantly felt like that was exactly what I was looking for, the opportunity to speak more on complex women-identifying issues and narratives, especially the more that my social practice is trying to grow within public art,” Rixy told 

Narratives around empowering complex womanhood and femininity are common in Rixy’s art, she said.

Before learning about the city’s proposal, the interdisciplinary street artist said she didn’t know Hester’s story. The Roxbury native said it was unfortunate that she hadn’t heard about the tragedy before but that it wasn’t surprising. 

“I had the awareness of the issues in our city,” Rixy said. “Being of the community, having a lot of other friends that are trans or queer identifying in different ways — I am a woman of color, I’m very aware of all the injustice in this city. But I did not know about her story specifically, and I thought it was very interesting how much I didn’t know.” 

She said the planning and organizing for the mural has been in the works all year; there are a lot of logistics that go into painting a 35-to-40-foot-tall wall.


“It was also very important for me that this image was a place-maker and a beacon so that when people go up to it, they felt comfortable to sit there,” Rixy said. “The mural should kind of be like, ‘Hey, like this is a spot that we’re seeing, that we’re honoring, we’re giving respect to and we’re giving some love to’ so people can show up to it.”

Though the pre-painting steps have taken a few months, the actual painting will wrap up after about two weeks of long painting days. Rixy is planning to start the mural Monday, June 20, and finish it around the week of July 4. 

Part of the work ahead of getting paint on the wall has been talking with community groups, the artist said.

“I’m really just like the middle person between the community and the wall,” Rixy said. “The painting is actually the easiest part of it because it is public art, you have to talk to your community, you have to be very intentional, and thoughtful.”

She also spoke with members of the LGBTQ and trans resistance community to make sure the mural can be something that honors Hester’s legacy. 


“With Rita Hester, she’s so glam and beautiful and bold, so I was like, ‘Oh, she’s literally what I would want to paint regularly’ so it really did come a little bit easy,” Rixy said. “I think the process for this actually was a little bit easier than other community projects because other times it’s like, not my voice but just theirs. But this time it was like we all identified with it.”

But before anything got underway, Rixy spoke with Hester’s family.

“The fact that this situation happened not too long ago, and they’re still like descendants and sisters and brothers that are still near and dear,” the artist said. “I’m like … ‘You guys need to bless this whole project.’”

When it comes to actually painting the mural next week, Rixy said she’ll be using house paint for big areas of the design and incorporating spray paint for details.

She’ll also be using a lift to reach the higher parts of the wall. 

“Being on a lift is the closest feeling to being a bird,” Rixy said. “It’s like a mountain top. … You hear the birds early at seven in the morning and you’re just painting — it’s just so relaxing. And then people in the community just passing by and seeing you work and like giving you praise, I love that experience.”

The design for the mural doesn’t come from just one image. Rather, Rixy said the goal was to capture a timeless image of Hester.


“She also was a regular performer at certain clubs and bars, so it was cool because then I could put in a little bit of that feel of the 80s and 70s glam,” Rixy said. “With this, it wasn’t from one reference, like I pushed and pulled different pieces together to make her her own character.”

Rixy said it’s great that there is community and city support for the mural, and she emphasized that it would not happen without the ideas people have shared.

She said the project was originally proposed by Golden a former Boston artist-in-residence. She is glad the mural is happening now because it empowers the queer community and folks of color.

“It is great that the city is funding it, but I feel like a lot of these things wouldn’t really form or be what it is if it wasn’t for the individuals and the community advocating, which is really beautiful,” Rixy said. 


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