(NEWARK, NJ) -- On May 24, 2022 Audible unveiled a series of installations and public artworks from the Newark Artist Collaboration (NAC), a program created to amplify the work of Newark-based artists and encourage local investment in Newark’s creative community. Audible’s Founder and Executive Chairman, Don Katz, and VP of Urban Innovation, Aisha Glover, were joined this morning by elected officials, business leaders, Audible employees, and Newark residents for a celebration debuting the installations with speeches and a walking tour of the creative work in Audible’s newly renovated 1 Washington Park headquarters and in the surrounding downtown neighborhood.
Audible created the Newark Artist Collaboration to invest in Newark’s local artists and art organizations, recognizing the critical role they play in enhancing the vibrancy and cultural capital of the city. This inaugural phase of the program features an array of completed and in-progress site-specific and original interdisciplinary artwork from 20 local artists and artist collectives, selected by a jury of local arts professionals and community stakeholders last fall after a competitive call for proposals. Artists include Adama Delphine Fawundu, Antoinette Ellis-Williams, Armisey N. Smith, Eirini Linardaki, GERALUZ & WERC, IMVisible, Malcolm Rolling & Hans Lundy, Melisa Gerecci, Monifa Kincaid, CAZORLA + SALEME, Noelle Lorraine Williams, Ron Norsworthy, and Yasmin De Jesus.
Program public artworks include murals, fence and window activations, digital artworks, an outdoor children's reading area, and more. Several murals transform the facades of neighborhood buildings and can be seen from blocks away, such as Eirini Linardaki’s Cosmic Microwave Background, which includes contributions from area youth and families and is installed at comic book store Fortress of Solitude, facing University Avenue.
Art collective IMVisible’s mural, Code Glitched, on the Orange Avenue-facing side of the FOCUS Hispanic Center for Community Development building, celebrates language and cross-cultural identities.
At the former Westinghouse site near Broad Street Station, billboards feature images of the neighborhood’s former abolitionist structures collaged with their modern-day sites, from artist Noelle Lorraine Williams’ series Monumental Newark: Reimagined Sites of 19th Century Newark.
A number of Newark Public Library spaces feature NAC artworks, including Hans Lundy & Malcolm Rolling of YENDOR’s mural, Souvenir de la voix, on the side of the library’s annex building on Essex Street, adjacent to Audible’s headquarters. A vacant lot on Washington Street, facing Tubman Square, was transformed by CAZORLA + SALEME into a colorful children's reading area, Spectrum of Joy, which encourages imagination and play.
Audible also highlighted works from Raise Your Voice, a Newark Artist Collaboration special project which commissioned local designers, illustrators, and artists to contribute to a citywide visual campaign. The project features a series of original artworks that embrace typography-forward interpretations of the statement Raise Your Voice. Physical installations are accompanied by a QR-accessed audio component that shares the voices of Newarkers featured in Audible Originals through a new location-based audio discovery and listening web app called Places by Audible.
Visual artists include Dahlia Elsayed, Gabriel Ribeiro, Gisela C. Ochoa, Jahi Kijo Lendor, and RORSHACH. Audible Originals featured include The Book of Baraka by Ras Baraka and Jelani Cobb, Proof of Love by Chisa Hutchinson, Force of Beauty by Mikki Taylor and Deborah Riley Draper, and Raising the Game by Anthony Frasier. This work was completed under the leadership of Rebecca Pauline Jampol, co-director of Project for Empty Space.
“The Newark Artist Collaboration is a powerful testament to what public-private partnerships can accomplish,” said Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka. “These installations are the latest in a long list of community-focused projects that Audible has done for our city since moving here 15 years ago. I commend today’s artists on their spectacular work and look forward to seeing how these creative pieces will undoubtedly uplift our neighborhoods for years to come.”
“We are proud to support Newark’s artists as they express their commitment to the city in profoundly creative ways,” said Don Katz, Executive Chairman and Founder of Audible. “Today’s unveiling demonstrates how public art connects to equity-making, as we also honor the generations of Newark artists, writers, poets, musicians, and creatives who have marked the city with their artistry. The Newark Artist Collaboration can serve as a model for other companies and cities looking to make a meaningful impact in their neighborhoods.”
“The Newark Artist Collaboration is an extraordinary showcase of the raw and diverse talent that calls Newark home,” said fayemi shakur, Newark’s Arts and Cultural Affairs Director. “These installations are a proud reflection of our city’s storied history and a portal into its bright future. Thank you to Audible and all those involved for their continued support of Newark’s creative community and their boundless commitment towards finding new and innovative ways to amplify and invest in our arts scene.”
“I grew up in the Central Ward of Newark and I’m inspired when I see the city come to life through art,” said Central Ward Councilwoman LaMonica McIver. “There is no better way to celebrate the talent, vibrancy, and creativity of our city than through its homegrown talent. This project shines a light on the true depth of this talent while building a more equitable and resilient Newark for generations to come.”
“The Newark Artist Collaboration is proof that when you invest in your own community and cultivate local talent to commission works, the result is astounding,” said Aisha Glover, VP of Urban Innovation. “The first phase of many, the potential of NAC is limitless and we at Audible are excited to continue to build upon this work and expand our impact in Newark.”
Several commissions are installed in and around Audible’s headquarters, which underwent a comprehensive renovation in preparation for employees’ return to the office. “As we continue to welcome employees back to Newark, we’re excited to feature this incredible work in our headquarters so that both employees and visitors from around the world will be able to bear witness to the talent of our local community,” said Anne Erni, Chief People Officer at Audible, who also sat on the external jury for artist selection. “We recognize the unique synergy between Audible employees and the physical places they work in. Our hope is these installations will not only elevate our office spaces, but provide creative inspiration on a daily basis.”
Neighborhood stakeholders who donated their space in support of this project include Aetna Realty, Bolton Development, Fidelco Realty Group, Accurate Builders and Developers, Paramount Assets LLC, RBH Group, Hanini Group, L + M, Edison Properties, FOCUS Hispanic Center for Community Development, NJ Transit, the Newark Public Library and Rutgers University-Newark. The City of Newark’s Division of Arts and Cultural Affairs and local arts organizations such as Express Newark, Newark Arts, The Newark Museum of Art, and Project for Empty Space also advised on and supported the development of the program.
Audible has long been committed to supporting the cultural life of Newark, where it established its headquarters in 2007. Audible employees receive free memberships to the Newark Museum of Art as well as tickets to concerts and events at NJPAC and the Prudential Center. Audible has also donated free memberships to its service, including 160 educator-selected titles, to thousands of Newark Public Schools students and teachers, and to the Mayor’s Book Club.
The Newark Artist Collaboration is the latest of Audible’s impact initiatives in the city, joining programs like Newark Working Kitchens, a COVID-19 response that launched in April 2020 and has helped keep open 37 local restaurants and delivered more than 1.4 million meals to more than 10,000 at-risk Newarkers. NWK and the Newark Artist Collaboration are supported by the Global Center for Urban Development, which Audible created in 2020 to expand its community and economic initiatives while launching new and measurable models focused on advancing equity, racial justice, and economic empowerment.
Audible, Inc., an Amazon.com, Inc. subsidiary (NASDAQ:AMZN), is the leading creator and provider of premium audio storytelling, offering customers a new way to enhance and enrich their lives every day. Audible content includes more than 700,000 audio programs from leading audiobook publishers, broadcasters, entertainers, magazine and newspaper publishers, and business information providers.