Voices from the Field Blog

Community Development & the Arts: Perfect Together!

Join the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey on October 15 for a workshop on connecting community development, creative placemaking, and more! Through the trials and tribulations of the pandemic, community art has become a beacon of light in uncertain times. New Jersey’s local painters, sculptors, community gardeners, musicians, poets, dancers, and all other artists have proven...

Beyond the Boundaries: Arts Education through a Pandemic

“We always have a choice of how we respond to the crisis. That’s what arts does: it gives students a voice.” Since the onset of the pandemic and throughout the past year, the landscape of arts education has changed dramatically. At schools throughout the state of New Jersey, students were forced to communicate and create from home, or through major restrictions. However, in spite of this blow,...

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...

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"...

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...

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...

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...

Art and Love, Our Infinite Power

Anyone who knows me, knows that I breathe art. Not just through the paintings and drawings I love to make. It is in the frequencies I listen to; the words I write in 100 journals; random dancing in the kitchen with my siblings; the movies I get lost in with friends; the books that transport me to other worlds; the pictures that capture a fleeting moment or the light inside of a person. It is the...

Silver Linings

Back in February, when things were “normal,” Gracie, 12 years old, and Tim, 18 years old, set off to begin their 10th (or is it 11th?) season of Young Performer’s Workshop. They’ve participated in so many seasons and it is such a part of our daily lives, I’ve lost count. YPW, as the regulars call it, is a pre-professional theatre training program for budding thespians ages 8-18 run by the...