Editor’s Note: This article is part of Communities of New Jersey, a new series designed to highlight, showcase, and cover communities that are underserved by major media organizations like NJ.com.
How do you celebrate the beauty and diversity of everyday life during a pandemic and in the midst of a nationwide reckoning with America’s racial history? You take photos for Newark based artists Gabe Ribeiro and Chrystofer Davis and encourage others around you to take photos as well.
Ribeiro and Davis said they wanted to give back to the community and highlight the beauty and diversity that Newark has to offer. So they started the first “Nork! Photo Walk ”(the name is a reference to the pronunciation of the locals“ Newark ”) last September with almost 100 participants through the city center.
“It’s important to support and build a creative community,” Davis told NJ Advance Media. “Our goal was to create a welcoming space where all skill levels could network and have fun together while highlighting what Newark has to offer.”
Outside the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, Travis Browndyke, who lives in Boise, Idaho, checks the light meter app on his phone while sitting next to Dewayne Parker from Baltimore, who uses a traditional light meter. Browndyke, a former Newark resident, flew in to attend the event. Saturday, April 17th, 2021. Aristide Economopoulos | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
Brooklyn’s James Glover poses for Trenton’s Abbas Wiswell while standing by the lake in Branch Brook Park. Saturday, April 17th, 2021. Aristide Economopoulos | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
Xintong Gu, a student at Rutgers Newark, takes pictures with her cell phone in the park. Aristide Economopoulos | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
In April of that year, the two artists held their second walk, which began at the Sacred Heart Cathedral and made its way into the blooming Branch Brook Park. About 50 people came to the event, clicking their shutters the whole time.
Zakiyyah Woods, who lives in Brooklyn and used to work in Newark, said when she got into town it was just for work. She didn’t take the time to look around or appreciate the art, architecture, views, landscapes, and people of the city. The nork! Photo Walk changed that.
“I wanted to meet other like-minded photographers and network,” said Woods. “It was a great time to be out and about with my camera and just enjoy the day.”
Newark’s Jasmine Anderson follows others down a trail in Branch Brook Park during the photo walk. Aristide Economopoulos | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
Newark artist Chrystofer Davis, center, one of the co-founders of the Nork! Photo Walk, addresses the participants before the start. Aristide Economopoulos | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
At the lake in Branch Brook Park, Alexandrya Roberson, left, shows some photos she took of her friend Shania Roberts. Aristide Economopoulos | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
The participants posed to each other in the park with its cherry blossom trees in bloom. Aristide Economopoulos | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
For Davis and Ribeiro, both of whom were Newark Creative Catalyst Fund 2020 winners, the history of Newark is another reason to celebrate it with photography. During the walk, Davis advised attendees that Rev. Hannibal Goodwin invented celluloid film, which was used in the making of films, in 1887 at the Plume House on Broad Street.
The participants walked through the park for a few hours and then held a raffle where prizes were won for participation. Ribeiro said the walk was an opportunity for the artist community to come together safely, which has been a rarity since the pandemic began.
“It’s great to meet and connect different photographers from different communities and see the different styles in their work,” he said.
Below are some of the pictures the group took.
Ray Rodriguez’s photo of the 2nd Nork! Photo walk. Ray Rodriguez
Randez West’s photo of the Nork! Photo walk. Randez West
Jasmine Anderson’s photo of the Nork! Photo walk. Jasmine Anderson
Chrystofer Davis’ photo of the Nork! Photo hike Chrystofer Davis
Photo by Kamel Brown, @ Kmelb7.
Photo by Jennifer Pappalardo, @jenniferpapalardo_
Photo by Devon Warren, @devonwarrenfoto
Photo by Manuel J. Antunes, @mantunesofnewark
Photo by Dewayne Parker, @peepx_xgame
Photo by Gary Sprengel, @garysprengel
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Aristide Economopoulos can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @AristideEco and on Instagram @aeconomopoulos.