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Muralist Marcelo Smilee Proudly Partakes In The Outlaw Ocean Mural Project, A Collaboration with Journalist Ian Urbina

Mural by artist Marcelo Smilee, The Outlaw Ocean Mural Project, in São Paulo, Brazil is called “Ocean For Those Who Know How To Love"

There is so much chaos in the oceans. I had no idea of the turmoil and suffering occurring at sea.”
— Marcelo Smilee for The Outlaw Ocean Mural Project
SAO PAULO, SAO PAULO, BRAZIL, September 6, 2022 / -- In a personal statement about his art, muralist Marcelo Smilee explains why he teamed up with investigative reporter Ian Urbina to draw attention to human rights and environmental abuses at sea within The Outlaw Ocean Mural Project.

A global effort to disseminate investigative journalism about human exploitation and labor crimes at sea, the project brings together painters from around the world to leverage public creativity with a cause. These paintings are based on the groundbreaking reporting produced by a small, non-profit news outlet based in Washington, D.C., The Outlaw Ocean Project. The organization exposes the urgent problems happening on the earth’s oceans including sea slavery, arms trafficking, the climate crisis and overfishing.

What makes The Outlaw Ocean Project a distinct news organization is three-fold. First, the reporting focuses on the more than 50 million people who work in a realm that covers over two thirds of the planet, but whose stories are rarely told. Second, the news-gathering is funded directly by readers and foundations so that the stories can be published for free in over a half dozen languages and more than three dozen countries, which gives it a wide impact. Third, the journalism is targeted toward non-news platforms and a younger and more international audience by converting these stories into art. In turn, individuals are able to connect with the issues on a more visceral level.

The Outlaw Ocean Mural Project is part of this innovation and offers a communal display of nontraditional journalism with unmatched effectiveness.

Marcelo Smilee was born in the Cambuci neighborhood of São Paulo, Brazil. At age 12, he was orchestrating interventions in public spaces. He started by drawing on asphalt with chalk and pieces of brick he found in abandoned houses. A self-taught artist, Smilee also expressed his talent with artistic displays full of colors, textures and mysterious expressions, each work unique and improvised.

By the age of 15, Smilee learned about Hip-hop culture and became interested in graffiti. Consequently, he swapped his chalk for paint spray cans.

As a young adult, Smilee immersed himself in African culture, visiting a terreiro de Candomblé, a cultural and worshiping center where the Candomblé religion is practiced. There he was enchanted by African music and dances. He soon infused these cultural influences into his artwork, drawing upon Yoruba and Bantu culture and African symbolism in general.

Smilee is pleased to join the other project muralists in an effort to spread information about ocean crime across the world.

“This project allows us to convey what is happening at sea through art,” said Smilee. “Thus, I hope I have helped increase awareness of these important issues.”

Marcelo Smilee’s mural can be found in São Paulo, Brazil and is called “Ocean For Those Who Know How To Love.”

Media Team
The Outlaw Ocean Project
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Marcelo Smilee for #TheOutlawOceanMuralProject