ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. – Art and action – that’s the message behind a new art exhibit that opened this weekend at the district in Chesterfield. It’s called ‘Americans Who Tell the Truth.’

Artist Robert Shetterly has painted 265 portraits of people who he says are “change-makers,” focused on improving communities. At the opening reception, Shetterly unveiled his newest portrait of a St. Louis woman named Debbie Njai. She is the founder of a group called ‘Black People Who Hike.’

Their mission is to empower, educate, and re-engage black people to the outdoors.

“When you think about hiking, access to the outdoors, there’s a really important health component, a nature component, a healing component that all people should have access to, specifically black people.” Njai explained. “If you think of everything we went through over the years, the history of black people in this country and then look at how unrepresented we are in these spaces. These spaces being the outdoors and essentially a free resource for us to heal.”

Shetterly has been painting these portraits for more than 20 years. The exhibit includes several more paintings along with explanations of why that person was chosen.

You can see ‘Americans Who Tell the Truth’ at The District until the end of August. It’s open Wednesday through Friday from noon to 6:00 p.m.