(NEWARK, NJ) -- The New Arts Justice Initiative at Rutgers University-Newark presents A Call To Peace, which will be installed in Newark’s Military Park, opening October 3, 2019, and running through Veterans Day on November 11, 2019. Taking place 400 years after the first enslaved Africans arrived on our shores in 1619, the exhibition is partly conceived in response to sculptor Gutzon Borglum's own racially fraught legacy.
Famed for Mount Rushmore, Borglum, whose Wars of America monument dominates Military Park, was also affiliated with the Ku Klux Klan and used the granite for his massive Confederate Monument in Stone Mountain, Georgia, as the base for his sculpture in Newark. As a result, New Arts Director Salamishah Tillet (Henry Rutgers Professor of African American and African Studies) partnered with Monument Lab’s Paul Farber, and invited renowned visual artists Manuel Acevedo, Chakaia Booker, Sonya Clark, and Jamel Shabazz to respond to the prompt, What is a timely monument for Newark?
A Call to Peace invited Acevedo, Booker, Clark, and Shabazz, all artists known for their innovative approaches to art and social justice and/or their relationships with Newark to create temporary monuments that engage the history and present of the park. The artists’ projects will focus on spotlighting underrepresented veterans, engaging the legacies of the confederate statues, and addressing the relationship between public spaces and historical memory.
Alongside the artist installations, New Arts and Monument Lab will open a participatory research lab, staffed by local artists and educators, where passersby will be invited to contribute their own speculative monument proposals. The collected responses will be added to an open database, posted on a community board in Express Newark, and shared as a report to the city in 2020. The lab will also host weekly Thursday Talks with critical members of Newark’s community who are actively working on issues of monuments, cultural memory, and historic preservation. A full set of programs and lab hours will be announced in late September.
New Arts Justice also welcomes Assistant Curator and Program Coordinator Alliyah Allen and Curator of Engagement fayemi shakur (former executive director at City Without Walls). In addition, Laura Troiano, senior administrator at the Price Institute, is directing strategy and operations, and Mark Krasovic, associate director at the Price Institute and associate professor of history, is the public history research partner. Nick Kline, director of Shine Portrait Studio and associate professor of photography and Anthony Alvarez, studio supervisor of Shine Portrait Studio, are also collaborating with New Arts on Shabazz’s Veterans Peace Project. A Call To Peace has been made possible by the generous support of the School of Arts and Sciences and the Chancellor's Office at Rutgers University-Newark, the 2019 Cultural Programming Grant from Rutgers School of Arts and Sciences-Newark, and the 2018 and 2019 Third Space Grants from Express Newark.
Special thanks to project partners Mayor Ras Baraka and the City of Newark; Clement A. Price Institute on Ethnicity, Culture, and the Modern Experience; Rutgers University-Newark Departments of African-American and African Studies and Creative Writing Program; Express Newark; John Cotton Dana Library; Military Park Partnership; Monument Lab; Newark Arts Festival; the Newark Museum; Project for Empty Space; and SHINE Portrait Studio.
About New Arts Justice
Founded by Professor Salamishah Tillet, New Arts Justice is an incubator within Rutgers University-Newark that is committed to intersectional approaches to art’s relationship to place, social justice, and civic engagement in Newark and beyond. Inspired in name and spirit by the 1968 film “The NEW-ARK,” created by poet, playwright, and activist Amiri Baraka (known at the time as LeRoi Jones) about racial justice education, urban public theater, and political consciousness-raising in Newark, New Arts Justice keeps Newark as an artist-activist city at the core, while carefully considering its position within the university as well. This means, amplifying the work of historically underrepresented and under-resourced artists, activating robust conversations about race, gender, class, sexuality, and national belonging among diverse audiences including those from the local community, university and municipal government, while contributing interpretation/scholarship to surround/undergird work.