In Newark, New Jersey, Mayor Ras Baraka recently commissioned a monument honoring abolitionist Harriet Tubman – who escaped slavery and helped many others do the same as a “conductor” of the Underground Railroad, which passed through many sites in New Jersey and specifically in Newark.
Designed by New Jersey-based artist and architect Nina Cooke John, the new monument will be built on the former site of a Christopher Columbus statue that was removed from a downtown park in the summer of 2020 following calls for racial justice.
In Fall 2020, the City of Newark engaged the Arts & Culture Team at Bloomberg Associates, the pro bono consulting arm of Bloomberg Philanthropies, to develop a commissioning process for this major new piece of public art, and provide ongoing guidance as the project develops.
In this episode – which is part of a series about how memorials, monuments, and temporary public art pieces can be more reflective of our society – David Andersson of the Bloomberg Associates Culture team sits down with Fayemi Shakur, the Arts and Cultural Affairs Director of the City of Newark. They discuss the process of selecting Cooke John’s design, how the artist team is working with the community, and what it means for cities to construct new monuments today.
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For more from our series about how memorials, museums, and temporary installations can be more reflective of our society, we recommend: