NEWARK, NJ — Newark officials are calling on residents to submit their feedback on proposed designs for a Harriet Tubman monument to be constructed in Washington Park.
After five local, critically acclaimed artists were selected by city officials earlier this year to propose preliminary designs for the monument which will honor the heroic abolitionist, a website has now been created for the public to view the designs and share feedback to be considered by the selection committee.
Residents will be submitting feedback on the following designs:
Abigail DeVille: “Harriet’s Bridge”
Dread Scott: “Keep Going”
Jules Arthur: “Freedom Train”
Nina Cooke John: “Shadow of a Face”
Vinnie Bagwell: “Harriet Tubman on the Road to Freedom”
“We are now choosing from five brilliant monument designs to determine which one will honor Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad in our city,” Newark Mayor Baraka said in a statement. “We want Newark residents to become involved in this process and tell us which designs they like best. This monument will reflect how Newark honors one of our great pioneers and warriors, and therefore it should, in turn, reflect the views of our residents.”
The city intends to rename Washington Park to Tubman Square in 2022 when the structure will be installed, replacing the statue of Christopher Columbus that was removed in June 2020.
The project comes after the mayor revealed in October 2020 that the city would commission a statue of Tubman to replace Columbus and was subsequently met with applause from many community members.
The statue of the 15th-century explorer was dedicated in 1927 as a gift from Newark’s Italian-American community, which took offense to Baraka’s decision to banish the monument to city storage.
The dedication predates demographic shifts and historians’ discoveries of documents that detail Columbus’ iron rule over the New World, which included savage cruelty toward and enslavement of the Native American population.
With a set of designs for the new monument now compiled, the winner will be selected by a diverse 14-member jury of art experts, historians and community stakeholders led by Newark's Arts and Cultural Affairs Director fayemi shakur. The jury will choose the winner in June and take community feedback into consideration.
“I am overwhelmed by the powerful designs put forth by this group of esteemed artists,” shakur said. “This is a valuable opportunity for the Newark community to engage with the city’s history and embrace the possibilities of what public art can do when considering ideas like representation, history and design. It will also be a great learning opportunity for the Newark-based apprentice who is selected.”
The winning artist will be paired with a Newark-based artist to work with as an apprentice, assisting with research and community engagement on the project.
Newark residents can view the design renderings and individual videos by each artist explaining their designs at https://arcg.is/8OCPj0. Feedback must be provided by May 24 to be considered by the selection committee.
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