On October 22, 2021, Newark Arts, Red Bull, and the City of Newark announced the completion of “Stronger Together,” a multi-facade mural project by Newark artist, Yasmin De Jesus, and defenseman for the New Jersey Devils, P.K. Subban. The murals wrap the front entrance of the Sharpe James Kenneth A. Gibson Recreation & Aquatic Center.
“Stronger Together” aims to promote diversity in hockey and to reframe a sport that has historically lacked representation. De Jesus and Subban spent nearly a year virtually exchanging ideas, and collaboratively producing a monumental artwork that honors Black and Brown players and encourages the Greater Newark community to play the sport. This mural is meant to be a vehicle for discussion around representation and equity in hockey.
Additionally, the mural is threaded with uplifting language, including “Newark Strong” a slogan of resilience coined during the initial months of the pandemic by Newark’s Mayor Ras J. Baraka.
To learn more about the project and check out how De Jesus and Subban brought the mural to life, you can watch the behind the scenes video:
The lead artist, Yasmin De Jesus was born and raised in Newark, New Jersey, and attended Arts High. Local artists, Malcolm Rolling and Matthew Purefoy of Yendor Productions, assisted the artist in production. The project was managed by local arts organization, Newark Arts via its ArtSource service, and Newark-based organizer and public art curator, Rebecca Pauline Jampol. The behind the scenes video was produced by DreamPlay Media.
P.K. Subban is one of the most dynamic athletes and personalities in sports. Known not only as a defenseman for the New Jersey Devils and 2013 James Norris Memorial Trophy winner, he is also an entrepreneur, producer, and philanthropist. Subban also founded the P.K. Subban Foundation with the mission of empowering children and families by creating programs that support them during challenging times. Additionally, Subban has creative interests that include fashion and drawing.
Yasmin De Jesus
Yasmin de Jesus had an early start at Art’s High School, followed by Cooper Union’s Pre-Collegiate Program, where she studied Art and Design with the top art students in the Tri-State area. Shortly after, she was selected as an intern for the Metropolitan Museum of Art and awarded a scholarship to study art abroad in Provence, France for the summer of 2008.
She was the recipient of the NAACP Regional Gold Place Award for Painting and Drawing, NAACP Nationals Silver Place for Drawing, received the collegiate scholarship from Art in the Atrium and a Sculpture award from NJCU. In 2016, she graduated from Montclair State University with a BA in Arts.
From 2010 to 2019, she created numerous murals around the City of Newark commissioned by Yendor Productions and various sponsors.
“I was born and raised in one of Newark, NJ’s low-income Housing Projects for disadvantaged families. My mother, an immigrant woman with little education and opportunity, struggled to keep our family afloat,” De Jesus said. “I did not have an ordinary childhood. While some children might recall learning how to ride a bike, I remember walking over lifeless bodies on my way to school. I remember the hunger I felt because we had no money for food. I remember the bullets that almost took my life in my middle school playground. I was surrounded by poverty and violence, but I never gave up hope for a better future. In this chaos, I found my creative gifts. Art and design became my passion.”
Newark Arts’ mission is to power the arts to transform lives. Established in 1981 as the Newark Arts Council, the organization’s vision is to become a nationally recognized catalyst for the collaborative power of the arts in the City of Newark and urban America.
Representing hundreds of artists and more than 80 arts organizations, Newark Arts is a strategic partner on “creative placemaking” that spurs economic opportunities in the city. Through Newark ArtSource, Newark Arts brokers relationships, connecting local artists and their work to major development projects throughout the City. With some $4 billion in development in the city, Newark Arts serves as an intermediary for developers that are building new buildings or revitalizing old structures and want their spaces to reflect local culture.
For more information, visit www.newarkarts.org.