Meet Memuco, an Environmental Art Warrior

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Ask Mexican-American artist Guillermo Munro Colosio “Memuco” to tell you about the protagonist in his artwork, a.k.a The Silent One, and you will be in for an imaginative narrative that includes Mexican representations of death, endangered species and environmental art.

An international graphic journalist by trade and an artist by heart, Memuco combines both to make information beautiful and raise awareness on endangered species via The Silent One; and since he’s a globe trekker, you’re just as likely to find her painted on a community mural in Beijing, as you are at an art show in California or Mexico – she gets around.

“I think she’ll be my companion for life”, mused Memuco, speaking recently from the seaside town of Puerto Peñasco in Sonora, México, where he had been visiting family along the West Coast.

Born in LA, and later raised in Puerto Peñasco and San Diego, Memuco currently works as a Visual Graphics Editor for “China Daily” in Beijing. However, his first conceptualization of The Silent One happened while he was working as an Infographic Artist in Dubai.

“I always painted a woman who was darker and younger than La Catrina, and in Dubai I painted her hugging a tiger”, he explained of how his muse came to life.

In essence, The Silent One is the daughter of “La Catrina”, Mexico’s lady of death and “el Nahual”, a Mesoamerican mythological creature who can turn himself into any animal form.

As the narrative goes, The Silent One has inherited supernatural powers from el Nahual, and it’s her mission to pick up the last of an endangered species kind and comfort them before they depart to the underworld.

“Her attachment to them is very big since she herself is part animal”, he adds.

The result is sleek, dark imagery always with Mexican motifs of The Silent One cradling or playing with various endangered animals that he creates using acrylics, markers, oils and spray paint on found objects; everything from prosthetic legs to cardboard can be turned into eco art by Memo.

Asked to describe his aesthetic, he replies “It’s more on the dark side but there’s tenderness there”.

And although he cites artists like Saturnino Herrán, Rufino Tamayo, Albrecht Dürer and Basquiat as inspirations, his main influence was his father, who is also an artist, and he credits his activism to one of his art teachers at Southwestern College in Chula Vista.

“One of my art teachers taught us how to protest without using violence, how to use your head and how to use art for injustice”, he remembers, “but his thing was the farm workers and the immigrants, my thing was always the animals”.

Memuco, who likes to don a gas mask in his self-portraits, comes off noble-hearted at his art shows and ready engage with anyone who asks him about his work, even if they’re the 12th person to do so, and he does it all for his love of animals.

“There are 22 thousand animals that are endangered…I’m not judging anyone, but once they’re critically endangered, it’s kind of like too late.”

Among the many animals he’s spotlighted in his art are the Moor Leopard, the Maui Dolphin, the Western Black Rhino and the Vaquita Porpoise; an animal that is close to his heart since it’s native to his hometown of Puerto Peñasco, and of which there are less than 300 left on the planet.

“You think of a species , something so beautiful and majestic , and how it will not exist anymore…”, he lamented.

Now with social media, his art and illustrations don’t have to be limited to galleries, as it provides his activism with a new playing field.

“I don’t wait, I have a cause and I go at it”, he says of the illustrations he’s posted on different social networking sites, some of which have attracted up to 25 thousand views and hundreds of comments on sites like Tumblr and Facebook.

“I LOVE BOMBING ESTABLISHMENTS THAT HAVE SHARKFIN SOUP. IF YOU KNOW OF A PLACE LET ME KNOW. ILL BOMB THEM WITH MEMUCO ART”, reads the caption of a screen shot of an illustration he posted on a Chinese hotel’s Facebook page, for example.

“In China they’re not into the environmental pieces yet,” he says of the country where he has spent the last couple years of his life, but then explains that his pieces get a lot of traction on Weibo, a Chinese hybrid of Twitter and Facebook.

“When they see these numbers they get really shocked and they start passing these illustrations around and asking ‘what can we do?’”

Recently, Memuco started putting his illustrations on more accessible mediums such as phone covers and t-shirts.

“My work doesn’t really have to be in galleries, just give me a space where I can create something or react”, affirmed Memo, who was a finalist in Dubai’s “Emerging International Artist” competition.

“I’m not inventing the wheel or anything like that it’s more about the message”, he humbly concluded.

For more on Memuco, visit

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