Public Art Partnership with Audible Urges Viewers to Raise Their Voice

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Newark artists and city leaders yesterday celebrated the completion of 14 new public installations created through a partnership between Audible and 20 Newark artists and collectives, including many Rutgers-Newark alumni.

The murals and smaller installations, some created on property owned or co-owned by Rutgers-Newark, represent the city’s history, diversity, imagination, and its legacy of fighting against silence and exclusion.

The project is about more than physical beautification, said Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka, adding that it’s also a symbolic stand against political “ugliness.’’ 

“What we are trying to do is oppose ugliness,’’ he said.

The project, called the Newark Artist Collaboration (NAC), features permanent murals on the sides of downtown buildings and smaller, temporary pieces. Many center around the theme "Raise Your Voice," also the title of an NAC  special project that commissioned local designers, illustrators, and artists to contribute to a citywide visual campaign.

 The physical installations are accompanied by a QR-accessed audio component that shares the voices of Newarkers featured in Audible Originals through a new location-based audio discovery and listening web app called Places by Audible.

 “We are using public art to give voice and raise our voice,’’ said Rebecca P. Jampol, the project coordinator and a part-time lecturer in the Department of Arts, Culture and Media. She is also a RU-N alumna (Class of '13) and co-director of Project for Empty Space in Newark.

“We are using art as a medium for representation,'' she added.

Jampol worked with faculty from Express Newark and others to help select the artists who would be commissioned. Other stakeholders and city institutions also supported the project.

Amber Randolph, Rutgers-Newark chief financial officer, said the art manifested many of Rutgers-Newark’s core values. “It’s wonderful to see that articulated so beautifully, using some of our facilities. Collaboration is powerful,’’ said Randolph who is also senior vice chancellor for administration and economic development. 

A focal point of the project is a colorful mural titled Souvenir de la voix, painted on the side of the the Newark Public Library’s annex building on Essex Street. It depicts a woman joyfully listening to headphones while ancestral figures look on. That piece was created by Hans Lundy and Malcolm Rolling of Yendor and overlooks Audible’s entrance at 1 Washington Park headquarters. 

Said Don Katz, chairman and founder of Audible, “Today’s unveiling demonstrates how public art connects to equity-making, as we also honor the generations of Newark artists, writers, poets, musicians, and creatives who have marked the city with their artistry.''