(NEWARK, NJ) -- On October 22, 2021, Newark Arts, Red Bull, and the City of Newark announced the completion of "Stronger Together," a multi-facade mural project by Newark artist, Yasmin De Jesus, and defenseman for the New Jersey Devils and Red Bull Athlete, P.K. Subban. The murals wrap the front entrance of the Sharpe James Kenneth A. Gibson Recreation & Aquatic Center.
“Stronger Together” aims to promote diversity in hockey and to reframe a sport that has historically lacked representation. De Jesus and Subban spent nearly a year virtually exchanging ideas, and collaboratively producing a monumental artwork that honors Black and Brown players and encourages the Greater Newark community to play the sport. This mural is meant to be a vehicle for discussion around representation and equity in hockey.
Additionally, the mural is threaded with uplifting language, including “Newark Strong” a slogan of resilience coined during the initial months of the pandemic by Newark’s Mayor Ras J. Baraka.
The lead artist, Yasmin De Jesus was born and raised in Newark, New Jersey, and attended Arts High. Local artists, Malcolm Rolling and Matthew Purefoy of Yendor Productions, assisted the artist in production. The project was managed by local arts organization, Newark Arts via its ArtSource service, and Newark-based organizer and public art curator, Rebecca Pauline Jampol. The behind the scenes video was produced by DreamPlay Media.
“I was born and raised in one of Newark, NJ’s low-income Housing Projects for disadvantaged families," said Yasmin de Jesus. "My mother, an immigrant woman with little education and opportunity, struggled to keep our family afloat. Because of our circumstances, I did not have an ordinary childhood. While some children might recall learning how to ride a bike, I remember walking over lifeless bodies on my way to school. I remember the hunger I felt because we had no money for food. I remember the bullets that almost took my life in my middle school playground. I was surrounded by poverty and violence, but I never gave up hope for a better future. In this chaos, I found my creative gifts. Art and design became my passion.”
Yasmin de Jesus had an early start at Art’s High School, followed by Cooper Union’s Pre-Collegiate Program, where she studied Art and Design with the top art students in the Tri-State area. Shortly after, she was selected as an intern for the Metropolitan Museum of Art and awarded a scholarship to study art abroad in Provence, France for the summer of 2008. She was the recipient of the NAACP Regional Gold Place Award for Painting and Drawing, NAACP Nationals Silver Place for Drawing, received the collegiate scholarship from Art in the Atrium and a Sculpture award from NJCU. In 2016, she graduated from Montclair State University with a BA in Arts. From 2010 to 2019, she created numerous murals around the City of Newark commissioned by Yendor Productions and various sponsors.
Unveiling of Yasmin De Jesus’s mural, "Stronger Together," in collaboration with PK Subban, in Newark, NJ on 27 September, 2021. Photo by Meredith Whitefield / Red Bull Content Pool
The mission of Newark Arts is to power the arts to transform lives. Established in 1981 as the Newark Arts Council, the organization’s vision is to become a nationally recognized catalyst for the collaborative power of the arts in the City of Newark and urban America. Newark Arts is the producer of the Newark Arts Festival and Newark Creates, a community-led citywide cultural plan, created in partnership with the City of Newark. Key initiatives include Arts Education Newark (AEN) and the ArtStart community grantmaking program. Newark Arts is generously supported by Prudential Financial, the City of Newark, M&T Bank, Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, Victoria Foundation, Turrell Fund, Bank of America, New Jersey State Council on the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, Verizon, United Airlines, Hanini Group, PSEG and individuals, businesses and institutions.