About the Exhibition
Photographic art on display addresses the struggles and injustices experienced by Black Americans and people of color in New Jersey.
About the Artist
Austin J. Cuttino
South Jersey-based artist Austin J. Cuttino has been invested in the photographic medium for close to a decade. He has exhibited works at galleries such as the Philadelphia Photo Arts Center and the Stedman Gallery at Rutgers University in Camden. Most recently, Austin contributed work to V Magazine for Gigi Hadid Journal Part Two, a photography book showcasing the work of artists experiencing life during the quarantine.
The three photographs submitted were created during the Summer of 2020. These photographs are reactionary; they are my response to the struggle of being a person of color in the United States in 2020. Two of the photographs are in response to current events, and the other one is my response to a firsthand account of racism.
I am Jordan Galiano, 26 years old, from Kinnelon, New Jersey, and I've been a photographer since 2014. I became more focused on photography when I injured my ankle and could not skateboard for a few months and bought a Canon T3 while I was working at Staples in 2014. With photography, I've been able to meet incredible individuals, travel the world and have a career as a freelance photographer. My love of skateboarding, camping, traveling and music has inspired me to use photography to help document the world around me, the cultures I experience and tell stories with images.
Since I was a young kid growing up at skateparks, I've always noticed the melting pot of cultures that inhabit the skateboarding community and how individuals in the skate industry have helped shape popular culture. Some of the most recognizable and inspirational individuals in the skateboarding world are those from communities of color. Skateboarding allows people from any walk of life to come together and create friendships, art, music, fashion and positive changes in the community.
Many people think skateboarding is a white person's action sport but that is far from the case. There are just as many, if not more, people of color that skateboard compared to what others think. After generations of police brutality, arrests and stereotypes directed toward people of color leading up to George Floyd’s death, skateboarders decided to speak up in their own way to help positively change the conversation on race.
Across the country, the skateboarding community has been hand-in-hand with our brothers and sisters in recent Black Lives Matter protests. My friends Marquise and Ricky of Paterson organized their own Black Lives Matter protest by starting at the Paterson Skatepark, skating and biking down side streets, and finishing at Paterson City Hall for a moment of silence. Inspired by the Paterson BLM Ride Out, individuals from the Montclair-based Skate Essex organization did a similar BLM Ride Out through the streets to make the BLM movement more visible to the community.
The best way to experience a new mindset and see where people are coming from is to jump into the moment and retain the information like a sponge. I figured the best way to document these protests was to ride my skateboard down the street with my friends, bombing hills, avoiding oncoming traffic all with my Canon 6d Mark II in hand while capturing the protests. While riding down the streets of Montclair and Paterson, New Jersey, pedestrians and motorists cheered us on with yells of encouragement that inspired hope in many of us. These boards with wheels give us the freedom to go where we want, express ourselves and make a change in our communities.
Robert Gerhardt is a documentary photographer and freelance writer. He is a member of the National Press Photographers’ Association in the United States and an absentee member of the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Hong Kong. In 1999, he received his B.A. in anthropology/sociology and art history from the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass., and in 2007, he received his MFA in photography from the Lesley University College of Art and Design in Cambridge, Mass.
Rob’s photographs have been in numerous solo and group exhibitions in North America, Europe and Asia, and are in a number of public and private collections including the Museum of the City of New York, the New-York Historical Society and the Arab American National Museum. His work has also been published both nationally and internationally, including in The Guardian, The Diplomat, The New York Times, The Huffington Post, Newsweek, Haaretz and Suddeutscge Zeitung.
Rob’s writings have covered press freedom, civil and human rights and religion. His articles have been published in the Hong Kong Free Press, The Diplomat, The Correspondent and the Brooklyn Rail among others. Rob is currently based in New York City.
On November 24, 2014, a grand jury absolved a white police officer of killing black teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Two weeks later, a second grand jury in New York City’s Staten Island cleared white police officers accused of killing an unarmed black man named Eric Garner. Following these decisions, the local protests that erupted in Ferguson and on Staten Island spread to cities and towns across the country. People took to the streets to protest against both the grand jury decisions as well as police brutality and racism in general.
From these protests, the Black Lives Matter movement was born. The largest of these protests garnered huge amounts of media coverage. But there were also many smaller protests that received little to no media coverage. Following the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter on Twitter as a starting point, I began to track and document both the large and small protests in New York City. Over time, the sizes of the crowds at these protests had dwindled and the media coverage of them had all but disappeared.
But with the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Jacob Blake at the hands of police officers in 2020, the protestors became re-energized. Once again, mass crowds took to the street to call for justice and to change the system that allowed these deaths to occur. I continue to pack my cameras and film and head to the streets to document the protests, both big and small, in order to capture the first draft of the history of this next chapter in the civil rights movement.
Cesar Melgar was born in Newark, N.J., and raised in the Ironbound section within a working-class neighborhood. His upbringing as a child of first-generation immigrants influences his eye, as he turns his lens onto his community that has faced environmental injustice, disinvestment, and now, the force of gentrification. His photos capture the poetic nuances of daily life in a city that is often misunderstood by the rest of New Jersey and beyond, especially in the media.
Cesar has exhibited his work in all of the major galleries and institutions in Newark. He is a contributing photographer for the International Society of Biourbanism based in Rome. His photographs are showcased in his debut photo book, Street Views, designed by John Foster. In 2019, he completed his first residency in Artena, Italy, immersing himself in the community and creating a new body of work. He has also been a guest speaker for multiple photography classes at Rutgers University.
My dedication to making images began in my working-class neighborhood, nestled between the Ironbound and downtown in the heart of Newark, New Jersey. Initially, I was drawn to photographing my friends, but as a result of skyrocketing rents in NYC, Newark is in line to undergo major corporate reinvestment. With this in mind, I turned my lens onto the city’s landscape, its objects and its people, with the concept that Newark is going to look drastically different soon. I find therapy in wandering the streets of my home city and beyond. And being equipped with a camera gives me a tool in which to express the way I take in the world
Joseph Sir Moore
My name is Joseph Sir Moore, Jr., and I am a community organizer, photojournalist and artist from Paterson, New Jersey. I am the founder of Docyouments Journal Magazine, More Than A Photo Collective, the Dear Bros Initiative and the co-founder of Care More, a nonprofit that gives back to the less fortunate. I am also an organizer for Black Lives Matter of Paterson New Jersey.
Jazzlyn Ortega was born and raised in the bustling and historical city of Paterson, New Jersey. From a young age, she has been interested in art and later expanded into the world of filmmaking. She is a first-generation college graduate who received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in filmmaking from Montclair State University. Filmmaking gives her a platform to raise awareness on social issues in the hope to inspire and spark change.
I grew up in Paterson, N.J., a city with a predominantly Black and Latino community. Opening the fire hydrant on a hot day was the norm. People asking for change at the end of a fast-food drive-through was the norm. R.I.P. murals across the city were the norm. As I got older, I became aware that the “norm” consisted of disadvantaged conditions for the Black community born out of white supremacy. For too long, the killings and abuse of Black men and women have been the norm. Although I am not Black and do not share the same hardships that go hand-in-hand with being Black in this country, I realize that I have to fight for justice and help change the “norm.” I love to capture the rawness that street photography provides. The pictures I’ve provided were taken at a peaceful protest in Paterson. The very streets I grew up on are the same streets making history for the Black Lives Matter movement. My films and photography allow me to capture these historic moments and express social issues. My art is my voice.
Danielle Scott is a mixed-media assemblage artist who grew up in Jersey City, New Jersey. She graduated from Newark’s Arts High School in 1997, where she received the Congressional Art Award and had her first oil painting placed in the Capitol of the United States for a year. Danielle holds a BFA from the School of Visual Arts in New York, where she graduated with a triple major in Fine Arts (Honors), Art Therapy and Art Education. Danielle studied under the late famous African American Artist Jack Whitten. Danielle has taught Art at the Academy of the Arts at Henry Snyder High School in Jersey City for nineteen years.
A soft-spoken artist, Danielle has begun to use her art as a conduit to explore bold, fearless, and thought-provoking work that draws its inspiration largely from her own journey and life experience. Her latest pieces are brazen offerings conveying the intense beauty and wretched pain the artist absorbs from the world around her. She creates using photomontage, found objects, paint, raw materials, old books and collage.
From vivid paintings to piercing photography to striking sculptures, all of my artistic offerings aim to arrest the viewer and transport them away from the pretentious and into a realm rooted in truth. With heavy influence from a few of the art world’s most activated and unapologetic, such as Gladys Barker Grauer, Ben Jones, Betty and Alison Saar and Renee Stout, my work is created to enrich and push the needle forward.
I choose to explore and connect the intertwining relationships between social justice, equality, human and women’s rights, police brutality, femininity and culture. As a woman, a mother and a self-identified lesbian, Afro-Cuban, Polish-Jew in America, my perspective has been shaped with merciless hands yet has not been tainted by apathy. This perspective gives way to the audaciousness of hope.
Born in Paterson, N.J., photographer Kareem Wilder has been in love with the camera for as long as he can remember. Whether it was recording home videos or snapping polaroids, Kareem wanted to capture every moment he could. His camera is like an American Express card: he never leaves home without it. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in 2012 from William Paterson University. Starting out as an event photographer, Kareem has always looked for new and creative ways to capture life. His evolution into 360 and aerial photography has allowed him to introduce a new visual element for people to enjoy.
With so many negative images portrayed in the media, I felt it was extremely important to show the positivity and the love of a community coming together. If we don’t tell these stories and capture these moments ourselves, we allow outside sources to create whatever narrative they choose. Not on my watch!