A native New Yorker, Azikiwe Mohammed has always envisioned a space where Black and brown people can feel safe expressing themselves. 

Now, he is working on making this idea come to life through the Black Painters Academy. “I saw a need, I saw a circumstance which provided space for the resources that I have to be reallocated to other people, so it just made sense,” Mohammed said. “This isn’t about me, it involves me as I am also a Black person, but this is a space for other people to be the focus.”

Despite recent efforts by museums and galleries to diversify their exhibitions, Mohammed– whose paintings, sculptures, installations, and other works have shown at places like the Ace Hotel in Chicago and the Knockdown Center in Queens– believes that artwork by Black and brown people is still underrepresented. “Everybody really looking for Black and brown and marginalized creators right now,” Mohammed said. “Why not give them some? We’re going to help them find some.”

The Black Painters Academy has raised over $20,000 on Kickstarter and plans to open at 5 Eldridge Street in Manhattan’s Chinatown early next year. Watch our video to hear Mohammed share more about the endeavor.