Nery Gabriel Lemus was so moved by his conversations with Borrego Springs High School students that he asked them to contribute their family stories of migration to incorporate into a public portrait of the community titled Beneath, Between, and Behind.

Lemus collected the stories within an outdoor structure with vibrantly colored walls recalling the hues of a desert sunset. Viewers had to duck under its walls to enter. Once inside, one found an intimate space memorializing these individual voices. Lemus has created a different kind of monument, inspiring empathy and compassion as well as pride.

Nery Gabriel Lemus lives and works in Los Angeles. The subjects in his work range from issues of stereotypes and immigration to problems in society that can lead to the failure of families, such as poverty, abuse, and neglect.

His work has been featured in exhibitions at Project Row Houses, Houston, Texas; Charlie James Gallery, Los Angeles; The Bindery Projects, Minneapolis, Minnesota; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles; The Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery, Barnsdall Art Park, Los Angeles; The 9.99 Gallery, Guatemala City, Guatemala; Museo Regional Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico; and El Paso Museum, El Paso, Texas, among many others. Currently, his work can be seen in a solo exhibition at Davison Gallery at Roberts Wesleyan College, Rochester, New York.

He is a recipient of a California Community Foundation Fellowship for Visual Artists; a COLA Fellowship Grant from the Department of Cultural Affairs, Los Angeles; and the Rema Hort Mann Foundation Fellowship Award. Lemus received his BFA at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California in 2007 and his MFA at the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, California in 2009. Lemus also attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Maine in 2008. He is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Art and the Program Director of the MFA in Visual Art program at Azusa Pacific University.

Image: Nery Gabriel Lemus, Beneath, Between, and Behind, 2020, Wood, acrylic, ceramic, and mixed media site-specific installation, Galleta Meadows, Borrego Springs, California. Commissioned for the 2020 Candlewood Arts Festival by Under the Sun Foundation. Photo credit: Panic Studio LA. Images courtesy of the artist.