If you live in Newark or frequent the area, you have watched City Without Wall’s City Murals Program (in collaboration with others) blossom throughout the last couple years. Murals by Newark artists such as Gladys Grauer, Kevin Darmanie, Jerry Gant, Matthew Gosser and Kevin Samson (just to name a few) have brightened up walls throughout the City of Newark. You can view a map of completed murals HERE.
A recent addition by emerging artist Ibrahim Ahmed III now canvases the side of Newark arts space, The Academy St. Fire House. Sandwiched between Newark’s Downtown district and University Heights, many have witnessed the mural go up and now in it’s state of completion. Fitting enough, this artist is a Rutgers – Newark alumni and also has many ties to the building which he was asked to work with. I was lucky to sit down with Ahmed and ask him a few questions about “It’s just a little rain (Mural #4).”
1. What is the meaning of the mural?
The mural “It’s just a little rain (Mural #4)” begins it’s conversation with the past, which is represented with a black and white figure embarking on a journey into the present, highlighted with bold colors. The colors in this mural symbolize the diversity of Newark’s community, while paying homage to its wide range of institutions, and Newark’s struggles: pink (breast cancer awareness), red (HIV/AIDS awareness, Rutgers University, Newark Academy), yellow (support for our troops), and the rainbow (paying respect to the gay community). Also within this piece there are hands, which symbolize the need for togetherness to succeed and progress. Finally, the patterns we (myself and Artist Steve Green) used were to pay homage to Newark’s ties to African Heritage and culture. We also wanted to focus on a non-representational piece that would allow for Newark’s community to take part in, and to embrace the progressive dialogue happening within it’s evolving arts community.
2. What was it like working with City Without Walls Gallery and what were some of the highlights of the process?
Working with Cwow is always fun. This isn’t our first time to work with the gallery, so it was definitely a familiar and warm environment to engage ourselves in. The highlights for us were definitely working along side the after school program’s kids. How they were excited to go to the top floor of the scaffolding, and how they took pride in painting each section. We also had the pleasure of working with Rutgers students, who were really helpful and patient with us. Overall, the best part of it was allowing for the community to help put together a mural that will hopefully stay with this city for another 10 years.
3. What were some of the challenges you faced?
The challenges we faced definitely was the sheer size of the wall, and how we would translate a 11×18 drawing into 85ftx40ft (roughly) mural. The scaffolding blocked parts of our view, so it was challenging to get the proportions right. We also had to tweak parts of the mural due to the inverted section of the wall, but we’re definitely proud of the way it turned out.
4. Why the Academy St. Firehouse? Did it have something to do with your prior relationship to the space?I personally chose the Academy St Firehouse because it was where I was encouraged to be an artist (thanks to Dr. Terrence Zealand), and where I was given my first exhibition, which lead me onto my current path in life. It only seemed right to come full circle and give back.
5. What’s next for Ibrahim Ahmed?
What’s next is a solo show over at Gallery Aferro (where I currently have my residency). I will also have prints from my Printmaking Center of NJ residency on sale at Solo(s) Project House, who I’ll also be exhibiting with during NY Art Week in 2013.
Join Ibrahim Ahmed and City Without Walls Gallery for the Dedication of the “its just a little rain…(Mural #4).”
Date: Saturday December 1, 2012
Time: 1:00 p.m.
Location: 77 Academy Street Newark, NJ 07102
For more information contact:
City Without Walls 973.622.1188 firstname.lastname@example.org