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Paint to Express at Atlas Defense

Updated: Mar 30, 2023

The Power of Paint to Express Black History Month

February 28th, 2023

February is a significant month for the Black community as it marks the celebration of Black History Month. This month is a time to recognize the contributions of Black people to society, honor their achievements, and reflect on the ongoing struggle for racial equality. At Memorialize the Movement (MTM), one way we express the cultural significance of Black History Month is through the power of paint.

Paint to Express (PTE) workshops are a free event that we host each month to provide our community with a safe space to express themselves creatively. We believe that this is a safe space for BIPOC community to convene and talk about mental health and trauma while making art. This space is for them to show up as they are and be their authentic self. We encourage folks to paint what they like and engage in conversation with fellow painters.

This month we collaborated with Atlas Defense, a BIPOC led small business in North Minneapolis which focuses on community defense training courses that strives to empower BIPOC people to feel safe on their own terms.

Community members painting at the Atlas Defense space


Paint has been used throughout history to communicate important messages, stories, and themes. In the context of Black History Month, paint has been used to celebrate and honor the rich cultural heritage of the Black community. From plywood murals and graffiti to canvases and portraits, paint captures the essence of Black history and convey important messages.

At the event, we brought paint, snacks, good vibes, Black Joy playlist and 12x12 blank canvases and plywood boards. The 14 individuals at the event turned the blank canvases into a masterpiece unique by colour, design, texture, imagery and motto. These pieces showcase the beauty and diversity of the Black community, while also capturing historical moments and figures. It was exhilarating to see the canvases turn into something from nothing.

Paint is a powerful tool for expressing the significance of Black History Month. Whether through murals, graffiti, canvases, or traditional paintings, paint is used to celebrate the rich cultural heritage of the Black community, honor historical figures and events, and promote messages of unity and empowerment. Although we celebrate Black History Month in February, let us not forget that every month is Black History Month.

Here is a video which captures how the event unfolded!

Special thanks to Atlas Defense for being a continued partner and collaborator and for allowing us to use their space and making us feel at home.

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