Artists selected to propose designs for Harriet Tubman monument in Newark

NEWARK, NJ — Mayor Ras J. Baraka has named the five finalists who have been chosen to propose designs for the new Harriet Tubman Monument Project. The city intends to rename Washington Park to Tubman Square in 2022, when the new monument will be installed, replacing the statue of Christopher Columbus that was removed in June 2020. The heroic abolitionist made Newark an important stop on the Underground Railroad as she personally led enslaved people out of the South to freedom. 

“Harriet Tubman’s courage, valor, activism and spirit of self-sacrifice made her a role model in times of civil unrest and the Civil War. She personally led runaway slaves through Newark, working with local abolitionists to hide them from slave-catchers in our churches. Her entire life speaks to us today, teaching us about unity and selflessness in times of struggle,” Baraka said. “The monument will serve as encouragement to our present and future generations, allowing them to draw inspiration from the artists who will put a modern view on Ms. Tubman’s life and works.” 

The finalists selected are five critically acclaimed artists: Abigail DeVille, Dread Scott, Jules Arthur, Nina Cooke John and Vinnie Bagwell. 

The finalists were recommended by a diverse 14-member jury of art experts, historians and community stakeholders led by the City of Newark’s Arts and Cultural Affairs Director fayemi shakur.

Each finalist will receive an honorarium to complete a conceptual design for the monument this spring. The artists’ designs will be shared with Newark residents to provide feedback, which jurors will also take into consideration. Additionally, 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. 

“I am absolutely thrilled to see these trailblazer artists envision an enduring tribute to Harriet Tubman here in Newark,” said Salamishah Tillet, a selection committee member, cultural critic and Rutgers University–Newark professor. “That Ms. Tubman blessed our city on one of her many emancipation journeys is a history that we should celebrate, honor and learn from as we work towards making her freedom dreams a reality for all Newarkers today.” 

The Harriet Tubman Monument Project aligns with the mission of the Division of Arts and Cultural Affairs to develop a world-class public art program for the City of Newark.

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