April 29, 2021


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Newark, NJ – April 29, 2021 — Mayor Ras J. Baraka announced today that the City of Newark is calling on Newark residents to share their feedback on proposals submitted by the five finalists selected to design the new Harriet Tubman Monument. Five critically acclaimed artists: Abigail DeVille, Dread Scott, Jules Arthur, Nina Cooke John, and Vinnie Bagwell, were chosen by a jury to submit their designs.

“We are now choosing from five brilliant monument designs to determine which one will honor Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad in our city,” Mayor Baraka said. “We want Newark residents to become involved in this process and tell us which designs they like best. This monument will reflect how Newark honors one of our great pioneers and warriors, and therefore it should in turn reflect the views of our residents.”

The winner will be selected 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. The jury members’ names and bios can be found here. The jury will choose the winner in June and take community feedback 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.

The five proposals provide a broad range of ideas and aesthetic forms. Newark residents can view the design renderings and individual videos by each artist explaining their designs here:

The title of the designs are as follows:

• Abigail DeVille: “Harriet’s Bridge”

• Dread Scott: “Keep Going”

• Jules Arthur: “Freedom Train”

• Nina Cooke John: “Shadow of a Face”

• Vinnie Bagwell: “Harriet Tubman on the Road to Freedom”

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.

“I am overwhelmed by the powerful designs put forth by this group of esteemed artists,” said fayemi shakur. “This is a valuable opportunity for the Newark community to engage with the city’s history and embrace the possibilities of what public art can do when considering ideas like representation, history and design. It will also be a great learning opportunity for the Newark-based apprentice who is selected.”

Feedback must be provided by May 24 to be considered by the selection committee. Additionally, Newark residents who would like their family names or organizations to be a part of the historic project can make a donation and have their names included in the design process. To donate visit:

Artist bios:

Abigail DeVille was born in 1981 in New York City. Maintaining a long-standing interest in marginalized people and places, she creates site-specific immersive installations and large sculptures designed to bring attention to these forgotten stories. Her most recent exhibition was “Light of Freedom,” Madison Square Park Conservancy (2020).

Dread Scott is a visual artist whose work has been exhibited at the Whitney Museum and Museum of Modern Art’s PS1 facility. In 2019, 350 people marched on levees on the outskirts of New Orleans as part of his community-engaged artwork Slave Rebellion Reenactment (2019), which reenacted the largest rebellion of enslaved people in US history. He is also the recipient of a 2021 Guggenheim Fellowship Award.

Jules Arthur was born in St. Louis, and moved to New York City to attend The School of Visual Arts where he received a B.F.A. with honors in 1999. He creates visual testimonies to the lives and legacies of those who have had a significant cultural impact. His work features a range of distinguished figures—athletes, activists, abolitionists, musicians, tradesmen, and blue-collar workers—each one of them illuminated through his detailed artistry.

Nina Cooke John is the founding principal of Studio Cooke John Architecture and Design, a multidisciplinary design studio that values placemaking as a way to transform relationships between people and the built environment. Working at the scale of the human body; individually or collectively, in the home or on the street, responding to how we use space in our everyday lives, whether in the family unit or as a community.

Vinnie Bagwell is an American representational-figurative sculptor who uses bas-relief techniques as visual narratives to expend her storytelling, giving deeper meaning to the legacies of marginalized people of color. She created the first sculpture of a contemporary African-American woman to be commissioned by a municipality in 1996 and has won numerous public-art commissions and awards around the United States.

In addition, artist headshots can be found here.