Consuelo Méndez (born 1952) is a painter, muralist, and cofounder of Mujeres Muralistas. She was born in Caracas, Venezuela, in 1952 and moved to Houston, Texas, in 1964. She moved to California to study art at the San Francisco Art Institute in 1969. In the early 1970s she collaborated with fellow colleagues and artists Patricia Rodriguez, Graciela Carrillo, and Irene Pérez to paint community murals, gradually forming the Mujeres Muralistas. In the 1974 mural Latino America, Méndez designed the central symbol representing Venezuelan “Yare devils” and a family unit framed by a “Native American Zia sun symbol and Jabiru bird on the bottom edge” of the composition (Cary Cordova, The Heart of the Mission: Latino Art and Politics in San Francisco [University of Pennsylvania Press, 2017], 136–40). Focusing on the Venezuelan Yare devils or devil’s dance with their vibrant regalia and expressive characters represents a form of solidarity and acknowledgment of African, Indigenous, and mestizo/a cultures. They are depicted as thriving communities overcoming colonization by embracing diversity. Méndez codesigned the mural Para el Mercado with Carrillo to highlight Afro-Indigenous, Indigenous, and mestiza/o people in places like Venezuela, Central American, and the Caribbean doing activities that brought local food to the market. In 1975 she completed a master’s of arts at San Francisco State with a focus on illustration. She returned to Venezuela in 1976 and continued producing art. Méndez’s illustrations make a conscious effort to portray Afro-Indigenous and mestiza/o, Indigenous, and Latin American themes since her formative years with Mujeres Muralistas.
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