The paintbrush is mightier than the sword


On Feb. 13, Changemakers Vancouver collaborated with Late Nite Art to create a night of empowerment through art, discussion, and good food. Hosted at the InterUrban Art Gallery on Hastings, the event buzzed with creativity.

Mohamed Ehab and Ajay Puri are the co-founders of Changemakers Vancouver, which all started when Ehab moved to Canada to work as a pharmacist. In his spare time, he started a film group to meet new friends and like-minded people. It started out small with events such as potlucks and movie screenings, which were held in his living room.

“The number of members I had in my group quickly grew to over 800. Of course my living room wasn’t big enough,” said Ehab. While he was connecting with Vancouverites who wanted to have a positive impact in their community, Ajay Puri was expanding his own network.

Puri has co-founded and continues to co-lead many movement-based organizations; some know him as the “social media guru” of Vancouver. When Ehab and Puri met, they realized that they each had their own networks of people, both of which were passionate about social change and making the world a better place. Brainstorming different ways to connect their networks, Changemakers Vancouver was born.

“It’s not just about the people standing in the streets. It’s also about the people that understand and hold that conversation”

Zack Embree, photographer

“The focus of Changemakers is to not only be a social networking event,” said Ehab, “We want to create an action oriented social group that brings like-minded people together to connect, share ideas, and most importantly, to act.”

Changemakers has held four events so far, each with a different topic. For “Art you Ready,” Volume IV of Changemakers Vancouver, the theme focused on the insights we gain when we engage our creative side.

While music played in the background, tables covered in paper and a wide variety of art supplies and magazines were placed in the centre of the room. The first prompt was to find some sort of image from a magazine that you thought described change and cut it out.


More thought-provoking prompts were given by Late Nite Art facilitator Julien Thomas, who encouraged participants to use the materials provided to create a community art piece. After every prompt, participants were to move (usually one seat over), spreading their individual works all over the table, allowing everyone to check out each other’s creations.

My personal favourite prompt was, “With your eyes closed, share a secret you’ve never told anyone using your body to draw.” Using more than my hands and arms to draw, the prompt forced me to really think of something that required my whole body to create an image that would describe my secret. Thomas occasionally debriefed the prompts, and for that particular one, he asked, “Is there a difference between a dark secret and an exciting secret?”

Food was sourced from Nelson the Seagull and Terra Breads, and put together by Yashar Nijati, chief chef at YummusOrganicHummus and director of The Chinatown Experiment. Served on sharable plates, new conversations spawned and the room filled with talk and laughter.

After dinner, in-house photographer Zack Embree spoke about his work, which revolves around social change, and was a perfect fit for the event. He went through some photographs, explaining why his work is so important to him, and how he finds new ways to portray social change through different varieties of art.

“It’s not just about the people standing in the streets. It’s also about the people that understand and hold that conversation,” said Embree.

At the end of the event, Late Nite Art put together an activity with blank postcards. We were given the opportunity to send a postcard to someone we had been thinking about, someone we hadn’t been in touch with in a while. An invitation to use the art utensils provided to create something meaningful for someone who matters was the perfect end to a wonderful night.

The next Changemakers event will be in April. Check for more details.