CAMDEN, NJ — As of mid-September residents will begin to notice art installations throughout Camden, spotlighting not only familiar faces in the city but bringing more attention to the ongoing issue of illegal dumping.
As part of the “Camden Is Bright Not Blight” project created by Camden artist Erik James Montgomery, 20 boarded-up photo portraits will be placed at abandoned residential properties throughout the city. The portraits will feature residents of various ages and backgrounds with different iterations of the phrase: “Camden is…”
The project is part of “A New View — Camden,” which was postponed earlier this year due to COVID-19. The artworks will look to transform former illegal dumping sites in the city and bring awareness to the issue.
“As a Camden artist I often see abandoned homes around the city, and I wanted to make a statement that we are not abandoning this invincible city,” said Montgomery. “These images on abandoned buildings will remind the residents and visitors that not only is there proof of life here, but proof of resilience and restoration as well.”
The portraits, which will be up until October 2021, will be installed between Sept. 9 and Sept. 16.
Camden’s “A New View” was the fifth winning project in the $1 million Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Public Art Challenge in 2018 - made possible through a collaboration between the city, Cooper’s Ferry Partnership, and Rutgers-Camden Center for the Arts.
“‘A New View — Camden’ challenges people to take another look at Camden, New Jersey — a city that, despite its challenges with environmental injustice, is home to spirited and tenacious residents who are excited to share the beauty of the city with the region and the world,” said Camden Mayor Frank Moran.
The artworks will include a large environmentally-conscious robot, a 36-foot long black panther made from “the relics of carbon addiction,” pod parks and two 22-foot tall sculptures made out of bamboo and colorful recycled objects.
“This project depicts the faces of residents fighting back against illegal dumpers and negative stereotypes. Our hope is that it prompts discussion about how we got to where we are and how we plan to move forward,” added Kris Kolluri, President and CEO of Cooper’s Ferry Partnership.