PATERSON, N.J. (PIX11) – Through figures like the late Nipsey Hussle, Kendrick Lamar and the late Kobe Bryant, Passaic artist Malik Hill sees hope and progress.

“Black art is very much necessary within my culture,” said Hill, “and it’s not seen enough.”

Hill is one of many artists featured in Paterson’s Black History Month art exhibit, highlighting historical figures and titans of the civil rights movement. Hill’s work touches on several elements, including mental health. Hill is an Army veteran living with PTSD.

“This painting in particular, I wanted to capture the multiple types of emotions that I go through on a weekly or daily basis,” said Hill.

Christopher Fabor Muhammad is an art teacher at Paterson’s International High School. Some of his students’ artwork is prominently featured in the gallery. “We still need art to be used as a way of expression, a way of healing and a weapon against many of the struggles we face, whether it’s internal or external,” said Muhammad.

The mini museum, as Mayor Andre Sayegh calls it, is a story he says needs to be told. “We’ve never had anything on this level here in front of my office,” said Sayegh.

“It’s very necessary for both the artists and the Black culture as a whole,” said Hill.