Voices from the Field

ArtPride regularly invites guest writers to share new perspectives on issues related to the arts community and the many ways the creative industries impact New Jersey.


The Camden Arts Scene is Growing

Visual ethnographer Michael P. Smith often described New Orleans as a “cultural wetland." 1 It is from this framework that I similarly consider Waterfront South, the Camden neighborhood where my organization Camden FireWorks is situated. Often non-residents describe Camden using deficit-based descriptors like “underserved,” “disenfranchised,” or “poor.” Although Waterfront South people implicitly...

Get Involved in the Word, Plant a Seed, and Watch It Grow

Words are important. Words are all around us and with you right now as you read this. Words, to me, are among the most beautiful gifts that I have ever gotten from or given to anyone. I believe this so strongly that I’ve dedicated myself to ensuring that words play an important part in the lives of others. I currently serve as my hometown’s Poet Laureate. As the first ever poet laureate of...

In Honor of Women's History Month

Mid-October 2020, during the last phase of a difficult political time in general, Susanna Baker, Executive Director of Studio Montclair , reached out and asked me if I would be interested in proposing a show honoring Women’s History Month. I started with two words: women with a ‘y’ and werq. I looked them up online. From the Urban Dictionary: Womyn This is a term used by those who feel that having...

Windows of Understanding Brings Public Art & Healing to Central Jersey, Expanding Scope in Quarantine

The Windows of Understanding (WOU) public art project, which launched on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, is now underway in New Brunswick, Highland Park, and Metuchen. Celebrating its fourth year, the WOU initiative unites local artists, organizations, and businesses to promote awareness and informed conversation around social justice issues impacting our local communities. Hiawatha Cuffee, "Rise"...

Passing the Jersey City Arts and Culture Trust Fund

This past November 3, Jersey City voted to create an Arts and Culture Trust Fund, becoming the first municipality in New Jersey to create a dedicated tax to support the arts. The trust will create funding sources for arts organizations in the city, and will support arts organizations and artists that benefit the culture, well-being, and economy of Jersey City, as well as provide increased...

When We All Vote

The election campaign is heated, and for the very first time, voting started early in New Jersey. Due to pandemic-prompted mail-in votes, New Jersey joins the nation in getting a jump on the November 3 election. Tired of people asking you to vote? Not me! I am energized by the amount of civic engagement around this election where there is so much at stake. I am delighted to see every single friend...

Quarantine, Social Protest, Poetic Imagination, or How I Learned What I Learned

I am a multidisciplinary, multi-hyphenated artist who straddles the worlds of teaching artist and arts administrator; theater maker, poet, and musician. Most folx would say I have a bold imagination and vision; I’m a proactive problem solver who strives to cultivate welcoming learning communities that celebrate the everyday and everyone’s authentic voices. So when given the task to create pilot...

Sharing the Stories of Healthcare Workers through Paper Made from Scrubs

Frontline Arts connects and builds communities through the socially-engaging arts practices of papermaking and printmaking, namely through Frontline Paper, where veterans make handmade paper from military uniforms. However, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, we were called to an additional cause: helping socially-distanced healthcare workers tell their stories from the frontlines. After our Studio...

Your Three-Step, Uncomplicated Formula For a More Diverse, Equitable, and Inclusive Workplace

(Or, How I Rapidly Implemented DEI at a Predominately White Institution In My Role as Its First Leader of Color) TRUTH BOMB: making your company DEI-friendly is NOT as hard as everyone is making it out to be. You see, most organizations think they need to pull out all the stops for DEI. But the truth is, it's so much simpler than that. Sure, hiring outside help can benefit, but the REAL work...

Zimmerli Responds to Community Needs with "Arts at Home/Artes en Casa"

The end of the school year brought to a close to a time unlike any other. Like all of our peers, when the shutdown came, the Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers had to unexpectedly pivot major programs, like our partnership with New Brunswick Public Schools that would have brought every 2nd grader in the district to the museum (nearly 800 students in all), followed by teaching artist visits to their...