Since businesses have been forced to close and board up their windows, whether due to the ongoing pandemic or in support of the protests, all those wooden placards have become empty canvases for artists yearning to be heard.
The goal of co-founders Keithly and Missy Perkins is to eventually remove these pieces from the windows and display them in an art gallery—one that can truly represent what Black people have been thinking, seeing, and feeling for all these years.
Sometimes words are not enough, which is why the initiative hopes to “heal the city through art.”
Perkins and Keithly are also hopeful they can encourage residents, especially younger ones, to go out and vote. Activism is a vital part of protesting, and now more than ever, we need the voices of the next generation to be heard.
“Paint the City” is far from the first or only initiative based around using art to send a message in Chicago. As we mentioned, the city is full of powerful works meant to inspire—they are so integral to the city’s foundation that a mural registry was started so that they would be protected from graffiti re moval teams. We’ll shine a light on a few particularly profound pieces you may have missed.
Part of the importance of the “Paint the City” initiative is to allow communities to express their experiences with the Black Lives Matter movement and why it is of such importance to so many.
When passersby in Chicago see the murals, the hope is that they will incorporate issues of social justice into their daily conversations and be further inspired to assist in changing the country’s dynamic.
Part of the importance of the initiative is to keep Black and brown communities in the public eye, especially when the hashtags and publicity surrounding the Black Lives Matter movement and subsequent protests stop being covered by news channels.
As New City Art
points out, not only are non-white communities more affected by police brutality, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has badly affected them more so than others. COVID-19 is more likely to afflict and kill Black and brown people than any other racial group.
This means that some murals, especially those highlighting Floyd’s final plea that he could not breathe, can serve as a double meaning since they discuss the impact of both political injustices and the health concerns of COVID-19 on Black and brown communities.
Artists Trixter and Yamms created a compelling art piece with the words “let us breathe” written across the top, located at Café Cancale.
Another painting on the walls of the Denim Lounge, created by Josh Valdovinos, shows a Black fist rising up as a white and brown hand grips it from the sides. The words “peace, love, unity” are scrawled above the hands, calling for the unification of all people, regardless of race, to aid those most in need.
As the article notes, the sole goal of “Paint the City” is very pure and simple. It is to “show beauty in the midst of chaos” and cultivate a different perspective for those who do not know what it is like to be directly affected by racism.
Perhaps one of the greatest assets of the movement is that it doubles as a way to promote new artists who can showcase their work in an environment that is responsive to growth and unique identities.
The founders have started a GoFundMe so that people can aid the artists in purchasing materials for their work. You might be surprised by how many different tools muralists are capable of using to design their artwork.
Black Lives Matter Murals