This Oaxacan Muralist Is On a Quest To Show Mexico’s Indigenous Cultures In Europe

Lead Photo: Art by Alan López for Remezcla
Art by Alan López for Remezcla
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Oaxacan painter Joel Merino will create 24 murals across Europe. The 29-year-old artist will tour Germany, Sweden, Italy, France, and Belgium with a mission to show the world the plurality of Mexican Indigenous cultures.

While this isn’t Merino’s first visit to Europe, this time carries a deeper meaning for the young artist, who’s known for displaying his Indigenous heritage on murals. “The idea is to promote a multicultural Mexico, that’s inhabited by many cultures,” Merino says. “It’s also about sharing forms of expression with other Indigenous communities in Europe.”

Merino was born in San Juan Copala in Oaxaca and currently resides in Querétaro. He’s gained prestige because of his large murals in Oaxaca, Querétaro, Quintana Roo, Baja California, and Guanajuato. His work draws inspiration from his triqui culture, an Indigenous community based in Oaxaca, and depicts the struggles and traditions of his people. “Regrettably, this is not something that’s talked about in textbooks,” he told Mexican newspaper Excelsior. “There is no mention of Indigenous people, even when we resist by  preserving traditions and customs.”

While he started drawing as a kid, he didn’t get a chance to exhibit his work until 2013, when the Comisión Nacional para el Desarrollo de los Pueblos Indígenas sponsored his first show. But the invitation to tour Europe didn’t come until 2018, when he participated in an artists space in Querétero called Jardin del Arte.

Merino was scheduled to travel to Europe in July but lack of financial resources has kept him in Mexico. While some organizations like the collective Board Dripper and Asociación de Artesanos Indígenas Triquis Tinujei A.C. have agreed to sponsor him during the tour, the artist is still raising funds to finance his trip. He announced an art auction of his own work on his Facebook page that will help him reach his European destiny sooner.

Take a look at some of his most beautiful displays of triqui culture below.