Local artist and owner of Leap Art Supplies and Gallery Melissa Dinwoodie isbringing her series, The Truth is Worth Pursuing, to Art! Vancouver May 25-28. The painting of Sabry Anwar is her first in the series. (Parker Crook/Morning Star)

Advocacy through artwork

Art is more than just a visual experiment — it’s an advocate of peace

Art is an expression of its creator. Sometimes, however, art is more than just a visual experiment — it’s an advocate of peace.

Local artist and owner of Leap Art Supplies and Gallery Melissa Dinwoodie is bringing her series, The Truth is Worth Pursuing, to Art! Vancouver May 25-28. Dinwoodie’s series depicts journalists from around the world who are incarcerated for simply reporting the news.

“My first thought was I wanted to do people who aren’t known, but maybe should be,” said Dinwoodie. “I didn’t know it was all going to be journalists when I started, but then Trump got elected.”

After his inauguration, United States President Donald Trump continued to attack the media, calling all journalists disgusting and corrupt.

“That kind of snowballed the series,” she said.

Dinwoodie began working on the series in January. Currently, Dinwoodie has eight paintings, and hopes to bring 12 to the exhibit.

“Once you hear the story, these people are just reporting the story of what’s happening,” said Dinwoodie on the subjects of her series.

She started the series to bring awareness to the issue of imprisoned journalists across the globe.

“We live in a bit of a bubble,” said Dinwoodie on North American society, adding that people in Canadian society don’t often hear about these reporters.

She believes what’s happening abroad, and even in the United States, is a cautionary tale.

“If you don’t have freedom of speech, you don’t have anything left,” said Dinwoodie. “Who knows where the world is going next.”

Included in The Truth is Worth Pursuing so far are Aysenur Parildak of Turkey, Wang Jing of China, Raif Badawi of Saudi Arabia, Danilo Lopez of Guatemala, Azimjon Askarov of Kyrgyzstan, Natalya Estemirova of Russia, Sabry Anwar of Egypt, Dina Meza of Honduras, and Keyvan Karimi of Iran.

“I’ve never said anything with art before, it’s always been about exploring,” said Dinwoodie. “It’s very different for me.”

Due to the elaborate research required, each painting takes a couple of days to come together.

“I’m making sure I’m really happy about them first. When you’re painting them, you kind of want to honour them.”

Dinwoodie is donating a portion of the proceeds from The Truth is Worth Pursuing to the Committee to Protet Journalists — an independent non-profit organization promoting worldwide freedom of the press.

Art! Vancouver is a four-day art exhibit at the Vancouver Convention Centre East building that brings in work from artists across the globe.