TRENTON, NJ – The New Jersey State Museum is honored to present the exhibition, “Aljira at 30, Dream and Reality,” in the Museum's first floor East Gallery from March 29 through September 28, 2014. This survey exhibition celebrates Aljira, a Center for Contemporary Art located in Newark, NJ, on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of its founding, and also celebrates New Jersey's 350th birthday and the individuals, organizations, events and places that embrace the anniversary themes of liberty, innovation and diversity. Aljira at 30, Dream and Reality is supported by the Friends of the New Jersey State Museum.
Aljira, from the Australian Aborigines and referring to a utopian "dreamtime," was initially formed as shared studio space by artists looking for inexpensive workspace. It was a project of young people seeking to control their own creative destinies and practical lives. Over the last 30 years, true to the vision of its founders, Aljira has developed into a platform for activities that promote the cultural interests of Newark, its various communities and the nearby metropolitan region. Visual art exhibitions are enhanced by performances, lectures, poetry readings, music and much more.
The State Museum's Executive Director Anthony Gardner says of the project, “We are so pleased to present to our visitors an overview of Aljira's contributions to the visual and social dialogue of the region over the past thirty years. We know that the Center's mission to cultivate excellence in the visual arts through inclusiveness and highlighting a diverse range of artists and perspectives will continue to enrich the lives of many and enhance the cultural landscape for decades to come.”
“The link between Aljira and the New Jersey State Museum has been important for many years. Serving our communities and building appreciation for outstanding yet under-recognized artists is a mission Aljira and the Museum share," says Aljira Executive Director Victor L. Davson. "We are honored by this occasion to celebrate the valuable role of the arts and artists in New Jersey together.”
From the beginning, Aljira has been aware of its role as catalyst within the socio-cultural ecology of the city. One of the Center's core programs, Culture Creators, provides active engagement with the Newark community of teens and their families who have very limited access to the arts. Long running programs such as Aljira Emerge and Bending the Grid engage the organization's responsibility to present an artistic experience of quality for everyone, regardless of class, color, age or gender. Emerge offers professional development and exhibition opportunities for working artists, while Bending the Grid affords an opportunity to those accomplished but underappreciated artists 65 or older.
The exhibition, Aljira at 30, Dream and Reality, presents visual evidence of the journey the organization has taken on its way to fulfilling the dream of its founders. Featured artists include: Elizabeth Seaton, Victor Davson, Fausto Sevila, Rafael Sanchez, Florence Wiesz, Efrain de Jesus, Carl E. Hazlewood, Cicely Cottingham, Willie Cole, Freddy Rodriguez, Grace Graupe-Pillard, Roy Crosse, Janet Olivia Henry, David Ambrose, Danny Simmons, Amiri Baraka, Aubrey J. Kauffman, Bisa Washington, Ming Fay, Philemona Williamson, Marion Held, Jerry Gant, Helen M. Stummer, Judith Brodsky, Estella Lackey, Kevin Sampson, Miriam Beerman, Chitra Ganesh, Jayson Keeling, Shaun Leonardo, Mary Valverde, Dahlia Elsayed, Dulce Pinzon, Hew Locke, Donald Locke, Derrick Adams, Mickalene Thomas, Manuel Acevedo, and Chuck Schultz & Esther Podemski. Also featured are works by Aljira artists on view in the New Jersey State Museum's fine art collection galleries including Renee Green, James Little, Hugo Bastidas, Franc Palaia, Mel Leipzig, Al Loving, Norman Lewis, and Frank Bowling. Other highlights of the exhibition include an ephemera and reading room featuring videos, books, catalogues and Aljira's photographic history from the 80s, 90s and 2000s.
Chief Curator for the exhibition is Margaret M. O'Reilly, Curator of Fine Art, New Jersey State Museum; and co-curators Carl E. Hazlewood, artist, writer, independent curator and co¬founder of Aljira; Jaret Vadera, artist, cultural producer; and Cicely Cottingham, artist and co¬founder, Aljira Design. “Aljira has been agile in their response to changing cultural and societal issues, all the while maintaining a humanist ethos,” says Margaret O'Reilly. “Throught its commitment to bridging racial, cultural and ethnic barriers, the Center enlightens not just the art community, but the local region it serves. Through exhibitions, programs, workshops and outreach, Aljira provides cultural services to the underserved and allows these communities to understand that the arts are not elitist, but a natural form of expression for all people. It offers art as something more than simply an aesthetic experience, but as a vital component in individual and community life.”
Digital Images Available Upon Request
The New Jersey State Museum is located at 205 West State Street in Trenton. Museum hours are Tuesday through Sunday from 9 am to 4:45 pm. Suggested admission is $5 for adults; Free for children under 12; $4 for seniors and students with valid ID; Free for teachers, veterans, active duty military and Friends members (with valid ID). On weekdays, metered street parking is available, as is parking in paid lots throughout the downtown Trenton area. On weekends, free parking is available in the lot behind and adjacent to the Museum. For additional information, visit the Museum's website at www.statemuseum.nj.gov.
About the New Jersey State Museum
Established in 1895, the New Jersey State Museums serves the life-long educational needs of residents and visitors through its collections, exhibitions, programs, publications and scholarships in science, history and the arts. Within a broad context, the Museum explores the natural and cultural diversity of New Jersey, past and present.
The New Jersey State Museum, located at 205 West State Street in Trenton, is open Tuesday through Sunday from 9 am to 4:45 pm. The Museum is closed Mondays and all state holidays. The NJ State Museum has a “suggested” admission fee. Admission fee revenue supports the Museum’s collections, exhibitions and programs.
About Aljira, a Center for Contemporary Art
Aljira, a Center for Contempory Art fosters excellence in the viual arts through exhibitions and educational programs that serve as catalysts for inclusiveness and diversity, promote \cross-cultural dialog, and enable us to better understand the time in which we live. Public understanding and support of the visual arts are strengthened through collaboration and community-based educational programming. Aljira seeks out the work of emerging and underrepresented artists and brings the work of more established artists to our community. Through the visual arts Aljira bridges racial, cultural and ethnic divides and enriches the lives of individuals.
About the Friends of the New Jersey State Museum
The Friends of the New Jersey State Museum was founded in 1968 as a non-profit 501(c)(3) to support the Museum's collections, exhibitions and programs through fundraising, volunteerism, advocacy and marketing. Through the Friends, the State Museum has received generous support for its exhibitions and programs from PSEG; NJM Insurance Company; PNC; Comcast; Robert Wood Johnson Healthcare Group; State Farm Insurance Company; Insurance Council of New Jersey (21st Century Insurance and Financial Sen/ice; Hanover Insurance Company; Liberty Mutual Group; Progressive Insurance Company; Selective Insurance Company of America; The Norfolk & Dedham Group; Travelers of New Jersey; United Services Automobile Association); NRG Energy; Prudential; The September 11th Educational Trust; ShopRite; Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey; Kreisler Manufacturing Corporation; New Jersey Natural Gas; Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation; and Property Casualty Insurers Association of America. The Friends also operate a gift shop selling merchandise related to the Museum's exhibitions and New Jersey history and culture. Proceeds support the Museum's collections, exhibitions and programs.