Artists Are Building Community Power: Guilherme Lemes

Kyra Madunich, kmadunich@lcv.org

Artist Guilherme Lemes teamed up with Nevada Conservation League and LCV to paint a climate justice inspired mural in Las Vegas outside a popular gay bar and monthly art event venue. The mural called attention to the interconnectedness of humans and nature and the importance of protecting our Earth. We had the chance to ask Gui some questions about his story and what climate justice means to him. Interested in supporting his work? Follow him on Instagram. 

Artist Gui Lemes’s life philosophy is rooted in the knowledge that people are an integral part of nature. For Lemes, this makes climate justice one of the most revolutionary causes people can stand for.

“When we start thinking that we are not nature, that’s when we get into trouble,” said Lemes. “[We need to] make people aware that we are nature too – the Earth is just an extension of us. Or we are an extension of the Earth, let’s say.”

Speaking about his latest mural project, a climate action inspired piece that covers the wall of a popular gay bar in Las Vegas, Lemes brings attention to how he weaved Indigenous and Black elements into its visuals. This honors both his own ancestry and America’s deep roots in Blackness and indigeneity.

Lemes was raised in Goiânia, the capital of the province of Goiás in Brazil. While growing up in the city, he paid weekly visits to his family’s farm, located close by. The region’s tropical savanna climate, rich soil, and abundance of rivers, trees, and wildlife that he connected with in his childhood are part of what continues to drive him to fight for climate action. 

“I have a kid,” said Lemes while talking about his own upbringing. “If we don’t take care of what we have right now, my kid will not be able to see the beauty of a lot of the things that I grew up seeing. [What drives me] is just a deep concern and relationship with the fact that we need to leave things functioning for the next generation.” 

Lemes’s strong sense of purpose has guided him through a life of many experiences. His first career, as a professional soccer player, was cut short by an injury that sidelined him into picking up the guitar. After a few years of traveling and playing with a band, he went back to school and received his law degree. Then, instead of becoming a lawyer in his hometown as planned, he decided he wanted to be a graphic designer.

“Six years ago, I decided to learn how to draw. Everything that you see right now – murals, drawings – those aren’t something that I started when I was a kid, I started [just] six years ago,” said Lemes. He hopes sharing his life story will help show people that “it’s always a good moment for you to commit to do the things you want to do. It doesn’t matter if you are young, or going through a lot – just becoming committed to the truth that you have inside of you that guides you will make things happen.”

Back in Las Vegas, his mural stands as a message to all who pass by about what we can accomplish. “Art has a power to bring people together, and it can teach people how to be better,” he says. He hopes that everyone–whether black, white, or indigenous– will take action, for each other and the planet that we share.

His parting words? “If you guys have more walls, I’m down.”

If you would like to learn more about Gui Lemes’s work, check out his Instagram. If you live in Nevada, LCV encourages you to support environmental champion Senator Cortez Masto, who is calling out greedy oil and gas companies for taking advantage of the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine to raise gas prices excessively and line their own pockets while families shoulder the cost.

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