The dynamic arts scene in Newark, New Jersey, isn't just made of new arrivals drawn to cheap rents and industrial grit. WNYC's Siddhartha Mitter visited three indigenous Newarkers who've been making art in the Brick City all along.
Mixed media and performance artist Jerry Gant with his latest public art commission at a new development of the Newark Housing Authority.
Jerry Gant’s site: www.aeroblues.com
Gant grew up in this neighborhood and has lived most his life in Newark.
Gant, who began in performance and spoken-word before taking up visual art, chose this absurdist moniker on a lark. It stuck.
The self-taught Gant has become a leader in Newark’s dynamic gallery scene. He’s an alumnus of the Aljira Gallery’s Emerge program, now celebrating its tenth year.
Aljira’s site: www.aljira.org
Raised in Newark and Jersey City, Noelle Lorraine Williams – another Aljira alum – returned to the Brick City to pursue her craft.
Williams says Newark’s appeal is partly economic, and partly the chance to organize and contribute to a mostly African-American, working-class community.
Williams draws inspiration from found objects, images of family and friends, and photos and clippings that speak to women’s – especially Black women’s – identity.
Classic African forms re-imagined with contemporary materials and themes dominate in the work of Bisa Washington.
In a time-honored tradition in African-American art, Washington’s sculptures locate spiritual meaning in found objects.
Washington says she aims to take art “off the wall” and into everyday life.
In modest townhouses, lofts and basement apartments, Newark’s artists are doing their part to accelerate the Brick City’s revival.