By ROSANNA LANDIS WEAVER — The work of young Hyattsville artist Rafael Antonio Rodríguez was recently on display in a special exhibit at the Embassy of El Salvador. The exhibit, entitled “Emerging Painters of the East,” was sponsored by Casa de la Cultura El Salvador and featured Rodríguez’s work along with two other artists, Marvin Iraíd Martínez  and William Berríos.
Rodríguez, whose work has been covered in The Washington Post, began his journey as an artist at Northwestern High School, where he graduated in 2017. During his sophomore year, while taking a general art class, Rodríguez was encouraged to apply to the school’s Visual and Performing Arts Program.
“My art teacher at the time told me I was good at drawing and she helped me to apply and my English teacher helped me apply,” said Rodríguez. By his senior year, Rodríguez was painting works that portrayed his journey as an immigrant.
Today, Rodríguez studies at Montgomery County Community college, works construction, and partners with other local artists whenever he can — doing work as varied as helping them lay tiles or fix old murals.
Though Rodríguez received a scholarship from Maine College of Art, he deferred the award and ultimately decided to stay in Prince George’s County.
“It is through the community that I was able to get into art,” he said, noting his gratitude for locals like Mayor of Brentwood Rocio Treminio-Lopez and Mount Rainier artist Margaret Boozer-Strother who have helped him succeed.
“It’s all about having the opportunity,” said Rodríguez.