Mayor Ras J. Baraka today named the five finalists selected to propose designs for the new Harriet Tubman Monument Project.
The city plans to rename Washington Park Tubman Square in 2022 when the new memorial is installed to replace the statue of Christopher Columbus removed in June 2020.
The heroic abolitionist made Newark a major stop on the subway as she personally led hundreds of enslaved African Americans from the south to freedom.
“Harriet Tubman’s courage, bravery, activism and self-sacrifice made her a role model in times of unrest and civil war,” said Mayor Baraka of slavers in our churches. Your whole life speaks to us today and teaches us about unity and selflessness in times of struggle. The memorial will serve as an encouragement to our current and future generations and allow them to be inspired by the artists who will look at Ms. Tubman’s life and work in a modern way. “
The selected finalists are five critically acclaimed artists: Abigail DeVille, Dread Scott, Jules Arthur, Nina Cooke John and Vinnie Bagwell.
The finalists were recommended by a jury of 14 art experts, historians and community advocates led by Fayemi Shakur, Newark City Director of Arts and Culture. The names and biographies of the jury members can be found here.
Each finalist will receive a fee to complete a draft for the memorial this spring. The artists’ designs will be shared with Newark residents to provide feedback that the judges will consider.
Additionally, the winner will partner with a Newark-based artist to work as an apprentice and support research and community engagement on the project.
“I am absolutely thrilled to see these landmark artists create a lasting tribute to Harriet Tubman here in Newark,” said Salamishah Tillet, selection committee member, cultural critic and professor at Rutgers University in Newark. “The fact that Ms. Tubman blessed our city on one of her many emancipation journeys is a story we should celebrate, honor, and learn as we work to make her dreams of freedom a reality for all Newarkers today.”
The Harriet Tubman Monument Project is in line with the Department of Arts and Culture’s mission to develop a world-class public arts program for the city of Newark.
More about the artists:
Abigail DeVille was born in New York City in 1981. Ms. DeVille has a longstanding interest in marginalized people and places, creating site-specific immersive installations and large sculptures to draw attention to these forgotten stories. Her most recent exhibit was “Light of Freedom”, Madison Square Park Conservancy (2020). Dread Scott is a visual artist whose work has been exhibited at the Whitney Museum and MoMA PS1. In 2019, 350 people marched on levees on the outskirts of New Orleans as part of his community-sponsored artwork Slave Rebellion Reenactment (2019), which recreated the largest enslaved human revolt in U.S. history. Jules Arthur was born in St. Louis, MO and moved to New York City to attend the School of Visual Arts, where he received a BFA with Honors in 1999. He creates visual testimonies to the life and legacy of those who had a significant culture impact. His work features a number of eminent figures – athletes, activists, abolitionists, musicians, artisans, and workers – each of whom is illuminated by his detailed artistry. Nina Cooke John is the founding director of Studio Cooke John Architecture and Design, a multidisciplinary design studio that values placement as a way of transforming relationships between people and the built environment. Working on the scale of the human body; individually or together, at home or on the street, in response to how we use space in our daily life, whether in the family unit or as a community. Vinnie Bagwell is an American sculptural sculptor who uses bas-relief techniques as visual narration to expand her storytelling and give deeper meaning to the legacies of marginalized colored people. She created the first sculpture of a contemporary African American woman, commissioned by a community in 1996, and won numerous public art commissions and awards in the United States.