When 6ixx speaks, it’s hard not to listen.
The 29-year-old artist is a first generation Haitian American. His pregnant mother fled Haiti when she was only 13 years old to give birth to him in the United States. He spent his childhood growing up in Miami, helping his mother look after his two younger siblings throughout middle and high school. As a teenager, he received a football scholarship to Savannah State University, but after two years a serious leg injury put him on bed rest for 7 months.
“My whole adolescent teenage years were cultivated in me being an athlete. Now that reality was no longer available to me, I felt like a broken person,” he says.
During this time, he became a voracious reader and writer, filling his days with authors like Voltaire and Paulo Coelho.
“That moment of stillness kind of fortified my idea that you know, if I can’t move, I can still write,” he says.
6ixx is a familiar face to many around Columbia. His work as a motivational speaker, spoken word artist, poet, writer and cinematographer has led to an extensive network of connections throughout the city.
He arrived in Columbia after he was offered a second football scholarship at Benedict College. He graduated with a degree in political science and started working for the Clinton Foundation as a brand ambassador and community outreach specialist.
“When I was working, it was lonely … for the majority of the time, it was me, by myself, in a cube, researching and writing. That’s when I made my little list of things I would do if I could ever pull myself away from the job.”
What was on the list?
“Do music and do art — It wasn’t a long list," he says with a smile.
After working 2 years and traveling to 21 states, 6ixx returned to Columbia and quickly became involved in the city's underground art community.
"That’s when my love affair with a lot of art and the city began.“
His previous projects "6ixx and The Ugly Truth" and "The Beautiful Lie" touch on large-scale topics like corporate greed and consumer superficiality, but an upcoming project titled "Some Assembly Required" is more of celebration of Columbia, its art scene and the people that make it special. 6ixx says that "Some Assembly Required" is a video project that features interviews with Columbia residents and business owners that have cultivated and nurtured the growing arts community in the city.
"It’s about community. It’s about me, as a Haitian American from Miami, coming to the south, and I never once felt Black and out of place," he says.
In a way, "Some Assembly Required" is an ode to Columbia. It's a city that is far from perfect, but the project aims to highlight the beauty of the city that doesn’t often get recognized.
"When I talk about my development as a human, as an artist, it happened here in Columbia. It didn’t happen in Miami, it didn’t happen in any other place but Columbia, South Carolina. I found my voice and I found my passion," 6ixx says. "I would rather develop myself in a city, in a community that will nurture me and push me and give me an opportunity to be as big as I can and build my platform as big as I can. So why not grow in a place that has enough fertile land?”
His long-term vision for Columbia is for it to be recognized on a national scale as an innovative hub for artists and creatives, but he recognizes the city still has a long way to go.
“Somebody has to make it big so that people look at the city, not as just a quaint little town that’s got ‘artists that are trying.’ But something comes from here that shakes the whole landscape,” he says.
“It takes a different kind of person to say ‘This is where I came from. This is what made me. And I’m not ashamed of that. I don’t need to move to California or New York to be the best version of myself.'”