Photo: Courtesy of Sammy Lopez and Rachel Barringer

Local Columbia artist has been down long road to get to present

Demetrius “6ixx” similien will be debuts his exhibit “6ixx and the Ugly Truth” Thursday at Tapp’s Art Center. Similien’s art includes a screening of his self-made video collages, then afterwards, he gives a “poetic lecture.” He says the main purpose for the exhibit is to open a dialogue about the issues in the world.

“I think it’s an upfront realization of the conversations that we don’t want to have,” Similien said. 

For Similien, his art tries to make people aware of how they tend to ignore what is really important in our society.

“We find ways to avoid certain uncomfortable conversations ... so I’m trying to give a visual uncomfortable conversation to have,” he said. 

Similien is a first generation Haitian American from Miami. The name, “6ixx,” takes root from where he grew up and how that has helped him in life.

“I grew up in Miami, so I grew up on 146th Street, on 6th Avenue and I’m the oldest out of six children ... It’s just me paying homage to all those situations that I feel like mold me as a person,” he said.

After breaking his leg playing college football at Savannah State, Similien lost his scholarship, but later went to work for the TRIO program to help other first generation college students.

“That program helped me find myself and I felt like I was only right that I go out and help other young people find themselves and give them a blueprint or a manual on what they can expect from college.”

Along with the TRIO program, Similien has worked with the Clinton Foundation in community outreach and mentorship, giving him multiple new perspectives on people living all across the country.

“I think we all live this life, trying to figure it out and I felt like I had a lot of opportunities of figuring it out,” he said. 

Similien’s inspiration to get into art in the first place came from working with artist and professor Maggie O’ Hara and gaining insight by those whom he surrounded himself with. 

“So what brings me to be an artist is to have a life of no regrets and to know that I tried. I tried to impact the world, use my creativity, use my talent to do some good,” he said.

Similien’s videos include politically charged montages of news footage through the years that bring up key social and racial issues.

“Because of the shift between Obama and what we have now with Donald Trump being elected into office, I think it magnifies everything,” he said.

But that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

“I think a lot of the secrets and a lot of the whispers that used to be conversations behind closed doors are out in the open. But I feel like now that everything is out in the open it’s time for us to be honest.”

For now, Similien is comfortable with where he is as an artist and person.  He doesn’t stress about how successful he can be, he just wants to leave some kind of impact with his art.

“I don’t have no regrets about anything, whether it’s exposure or nothing like that, the whole point is to try, the whole point is to try and light the fire.”



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