Welcome to Our Diverse City

Jersey City, NJ  8/14

I am extremely grateful to have been a project leader for a new program in Jersey City, NJ where 6 local teenagers were hired to assist in public art projects throughout the summer.  For our project, we were given a 50ft wall in Terry Dehere Park on Garfield Avenue.  We had three 1/2 days to come up with a plan and three 1/2 days to paint it.  So we had to hit the ground running.

We kicked off our research in "The New Jersey Room" at the Public Library.  After a morning saturated with info about the area, we all agreed that the most interesting thing we learned about Jersey City was that it had just been ranked the 2nd most diverse city in the United States.  Growing up in New Jersey, I took this diversity for granted.  It wasn't until I lived in many other states that I realized just how much growing up with such rich diversity had shaped my world view.  With such a short time line, we knew this was going to be a project of quick decisions & going with our first instincts.  And luckily, it was a resounding YES to highlight and celebrate this diversity in our mural.

The next question would be HOW to express this.  We loved the play on words between "Diversity" and "Diverse City" and we needed a language to communicate this quickly, colorfully, and boldly.  After some great conversation and sketching sessions, we decided we wanted to celebrate this Diverse City with a language that did not belong to any one particular ethnicity. Together, we chose sign language because we felt it represented a way of communicating that broke through barriers.

As with all the mural projects I have been lucky enough to be a part of, these students taught me more than I could ever have taught them.  All brave and determined students, they each opened my mind to new perspectives.  And it's hard to believe our journey was only two weeks long. I believe the pictures speak for themselves. 

Read a quick interview with me about returning to NJ for this project HERE.

To read about Jersey City's Mural Art's Program, click HERE.

THANK YOU:

To my artists: Jelani Rice, Jameeria Gross, Maya Valentine, Tyriek Thomas, Geraldine Ligon, & Dawson Anderson

And to Brooke Hanson & Corey Fleming for your support in making this happen!