Muralist Sérgio Free expands his vision of the ocean through the Outlaw Ocean mural project inspired by Ian Urbina’s book

The mural by artist Sérgi Free, The Outlaw Ocean Mural Project, in São Paulo, Brazil, is called “Rusty Kingdom”

I will no longer be able to look at the ocean and only see the natural ecosystem. I now see the range of issues affecting this aquatic arena.

— Sérgio Free for The Outlaw Ocean Mural project

SAO PAULO, SAO PAULO, BRAZIL, September 6, 2022 / — In a revealing account of his art, the muralist Sergio Free explains why he teamed up with an investigative journalist Ian Urbine to draw attention to human rights and environmental abuses at sea as part of The Outlaw Ocean Mural project.

A global effort to spread investigative journalism about human exploitation and labor crimes at sea, the project brings together painters from around the world to harness public creativity with a cause. These paintings are based on the groundbreaking news stories produced by a small Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit media outlet, The Outlaw Ocean Project. The organization exposes pressing issues happening to the earth’s oceans, including slavery at sea, arms trafficking, the climate crisis and overfishing.

What makes The Outlaw Ocean Project a distinct news organization is threefold. First, the report focuses on the more than 50 million people who work in a field that covers more than two-thirds of the planet, but whose stories are rarely told. Second, newsgathering is funded directly by readers and foundations so stories can be published for free in over half a dozen languages ​​and over three dozen countries, giving it wide impact. Third, journalism targets non-news platforms and younger, more international audiences by turning these stories into art. In turn, individuals are able to connect to issues on a more visceral level.

The Outlaw Ocean Mural project is part of this innovation and offers a joint demonstration of non-traditional journalism with unparalleled effectiveness.

Sérgio Free is from southern Bahia, Brazil. In 1986 he moved to São Paulo, Brazil, where he encountered a new world of urban graffiti covering the walls of the Tucuruvi neighborhood and quickly adopted this art form as his own.

After 20 years of creating art on the streets of São Paulo, Free started painting art on canvas. Today, Free paints with spray paint, acrylic paint and a marker. It aims to capture on screens representations, experiences and questions about today’s world.

Expressing his desire to relate to his audience, Free is clear about the motivation behind his paintings. “I want people to see themselves in my art and be able to use it as a mirror for their lives.”

For this project, Free believes the combination of art and journalism helps people connect with “the reality of the moment”.

Sérgio Free’s mural is located in São Paulo, Brazil and is called “Rusty Kingdom”.

Media team
The Outlaw Ocean Project
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Sergio free for #TheOutlawOceanMuralProject

Christy J. Olson