Protector of the Amazon
Buena Park, CA
2023, Senior, Art
Climate Hero: Helena Gualinga, Polluter's Out, Fridays for Future
My climate hero, Helena Gualinga, is an indigenous youth activist from the Kichwa community in Sarayuku, located in Ecuador. Known for having a passionate love for her people, land, and culture, she has advocated against the use of fossil fuels, oil extraction, and other resource extraction in the environment. Though she isn’t as well-known as many famous climate activists, her impressive accomplishments despite her young age inspired me to portray Gualinga in a regal way. I drew the plant and flowers around her hair and head as a metaphor of a crown as she stands in the middle of a deteriorating world. As an Ecuadorian, she wears face paint, an act of resistance and encouragement for strength to protect the Amazon rainforest and the Sarayuku’s ancestral lands. While both reading and painting about Gualinga, I gained a stronger understanding of just how far across the Earth humans have damaged the environment. I hope that celebrating Helena Gualinga and other hundreds and thousands of climate heroes will encourage not only youth, but people all around the world, to stand up and take action against climate change.