NewWalls Newark is an awesome new program initiative in the heart of downtown Newark, NJ aiming to bring a whole new mural culture to this rooted historic city. Launched by the Newark Downtown District (NDD) and led by local curator Rebecca Jampol and Newark-based muralists, Lunar New Year and Mata Ruda, the program will begin with a five day conference, “City as Archive,” which will bring a total of ten murals to downtown Newark. From August 14th-19th the district will begin its transformation into a budding center of public arts which will continue on as a long-term program, welcoming visitors and artists alike to a new home for exciting murals in New Jersey.
“City as Archive” will generate a new social dialogue in the community by creating art that draws from the cities archival landscape of “stories, narratives and voices that have and continue to shape Newark.” Alongside the murals NewWalls will present panel discussions to further explore community development, ownership, memory, and nostalgia within the context of the city. By using the city itself as an “archival database and venue,” the conference will kick-off a sustainable cultural energy, made possible through the support and funding of the NDD. As explained by NewWalls project manager, Steven Hillyer of the NDD, NDD is “trying to create something that will encompass all of [Newark’s] stakeholders by giving tours, volunteering, holding panels, and creating discussions about public art in the City.”
The roster of artists is unlike traditional “festivals,” more so working with a varied group that have a finer appreciation for drawing inspiration at the community level. For the initial conference participating artists include:
Lunar New Year (Newark, NJ), Mata Ruda (Newark, NJ), NDA (Newark, NJ), Cake (Brooklyn, NY), Joe Iurato (Montclair, NJ) in collaboration with Rubin415 (Brooklyn, NY), 2501 (Italy), Tatyana Fazlalizadeh (Brooklyn, NY), Sonni (Brooklyn, NY), Nanook (Baltimore, MD) and Decertor (Peru)
All of these artists will bring their voice to the community, representative of the “archive” of their choosing, creating connections, collaborations, and interactive work. For Lunar New Year and Mata Ruda this will be an opportunity for them to really give a gift back to their “adopted homes,” a city that has contributed to developing their work and a city that in the eyes of LNY “exemplifies [New Jersey] the best.” For Rebecca and the NDD this will be an opportunity to spearhead a mural program in the community that they have for so long been invested in, “working in public space to connect with a larger audience and create dialogue about the scene.” And for those unfamiliar with art or the participating artists, as with Steven Hillyer, this program will be an interesting way “to see how [the artists] different styles will come through with Newark as their frame of reference.”
NewWalls will ultimately start a mural culture in downtown Newark, which I for one am thrilled to see. This will be an exciting new venture which will become an outlet for the voices of Newark and neighboring communities, educating and influencing local artists and residents to further their own creativity and pride for Newark.
Be sure to check back with Savage Habbit as we share with you full coverage of the “City as Archive” murals. Also note that all events are free and open to the public, so bring those feet on the streets!
For further information on NewWalls Newark head on over to their social media platforms:
Photo Courtesy of NewWalls - Current installation at the Newark Museum by Lunar New Year, Mata Ruda, and NDA.