Audible announced plans to shine a light on local artists and their art through public displays and installations nearly a year ago when it started accepting submissions for its Newark Artist Collaboration. In October, the company introduced the first creators chosen to participate with the program and now their efforts are on display and available for all to admire.
On May 24, Audible founder and Executive Chairman Don Katz and Vice President of Urban Innovation Aisha Glover were joined by elected officials, business leaders, Audible employees and city residents to celebrate the debut of the installations at the Amazon subsidiary’s newly renovated Newark headquarters at 1 Washington Park and in the surrounding downtown area.
“The Newark Artist Collaboration is a powerful testament to what public-private partnerships can accomplish,” said Newark Mayor Ras Baraka. “These installations are the latest in a long list of community-focused projects that Audible has done for our city since moving here 15 years ago. I commend today’s artists on their spectacular work and look forward to seeing how these creative pieces will undoubtedly uplift our neighborhoods for years to come.”
According to Audible, the Newark Artist Collaboration invests in the city’s local artists and art organizations in recognition of the role they play in “enhancing the vibrancy and cultural capital of the city.”
• Adama Delphine Fawundu • Antoinette Ellis-Williams • Armisey Smith • Eirini Linardaki • GERALUZ & WERC • IMVisible • Malcolm Rolling & Hans Lundy • Melisa Gerecci • Monifa Kincaid • CAZORLA + SALEME • Noelle Lorraine Williams • Ron Norsworthy • Yasmin De Jesus.
This first phase of the initiative includes completed and in-progress site-specific and original interdisciplinary artwork from 20 arts and artist collectives that were selected by a jury after last fall’s call for proposals. The works appear across a number of mediums, as murals, fence and window activations, digital artworks and an outdoor children’s reading area, for example.
“The Newark Artist Collaboration is an extraordinary showcase of the raw and diverse talent that calls Newark home,” said Newark Arts and Cultural Affairs Director fayemi shakur. “These installations are a proud reflection of our city’s storied history and a portal into its bright future. Thank you to Audible and all those involved for their continued support of Newark’s creative community and their boundless commitment towards finding new and innovative ways to amplify and invest in our arts scene.”
The city’s Division of Arts and Cultural Affairs advised on and supported the development of the NAC program, according to Audible, along with local arts organizations including Express Newark, Newark Arts, The Newark Museum of Art and Project for Empty Space.
And the company has plans to keep the program going. “The Newark Artist Collaboration is proof that when you invest in your own community and cultivate local talent to commission works, the result is astounding,” said Glover. “The first phase of many, the potential of NAC is limitless and we at Audible are excited to continue to build upon this work and expand our impact in Newark.”
Neighborhood stakeholders who donated space in support of the project include: Aetna Realty, Bolton Development, Fidelco Realty Group, Accurate Builders and Developers, Paramount Assets LLC, RBH Group, Hanini Group, L + M, Edison Properties, FOCUS Hispanic Center for Community Development, NJ Transit, the Newark Public Library and Rutgers University-Newark.
Raise Your Voice
Audible also highlighted works from Newark Artist Collaboration’s Raise Your Voice, a special project that commissioned local designers, illustrators and artists to contribute to a citywide visual campaign. The series of original works “embrace typography-forward interpretations of the statement Raise Your Voice.”
The installations — completed under the leadership of Project for Empty Space Co-director Rebecca Pauline Jampol — are accompanied by a QR-accessed audio component with the voices of Newarkers featured in Audible Originals through a new location-based audio discovery and listening web app called Places by Audible. Artists include Dahlia Elsayed, Gabriel Ribeiro, Gisela Ochoa, Jahi Kijo Lendor and RORSHACH.
In addition to uplifting the community, Audible Chief People Officer Anne Emi highlighted the impact the pieces — particularly those at and around the company’s headquarters — can have for employees. She called attention to the synergy between workers and the physical places they occupy. “Our hope is these installations will not only elevate our office spaces, but provide creative inspiration on a daily basis.” To that end, Audible employees also receive free memberships to the Newark Museum of Art and tickets to events at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center and the Prudential Center.
The company said it has donated 160 educator-selected titles to thousands of the city’s public schools students and teachers and to the Mayor’s Book Club. Other initiatives include Newark Working Kitchens — which has helped to keep 37 local restaurants open since April 2020 and delivered more than 1.4 million meals to at-risk residents. Like NAC, NWK is supported by the Global Center for Urban Development that Audible launched in 2020.
“We are proud to support Newark’s artists as they express their commitment to the city in profoundly creative ways,” Katz said. “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. The Newark Artist Collaboration can serve as a model for other companies and cities looking to make a meaningful impact in their neighborhoods.”