As it’s been mentioned many times in the past year, Newark is changing. It’s been on the come-up for a few years, but in the last 2 or 3 trips around the sun, it finally seems to be … well, coming up. But despite what skeptics may think, Newark has been well ahead of the curve on a number of fronts, and the current exhibit, At Home in Newark: Stories from the Queer Newark Oral History Project, at the main branch of the Newark Public Library offers proof.
What began as a university project to capture the lives and experiences of Newark’s LGBTQ+ community in a catalog accessible to students, researchers and the general public interested in bearing witness to this “seen, but unseen” history of Newark residents has grown into something much more. Supported by Rutgers University-Newark, the Queer Newark Oral History Project is a living museum and podium for gender-nonconforming citizens in Brick City to tell their own stories without a proxy or mouthpiece to act as an interpreter.
The exhibit at the library is only on display until March 1, 2018, but the project itself is ongoing. And in the process, students and researchers are engaging in the often under-utilized technique of capturing histories via interviews. In a city that hopes to retain their identity and community values in the wake of gentrification, seeing the LGBTQ+ residents represented in such a deliberate, gracious and insightful way is commendable. Plus, it’s an exhibit that combines an alternative take on art and history, and this art nerd and history buff absolutely loves it when that happens. 🙂
Here are just a few not-so-great images (read: bad lighting) I snapped from the exhibit during my visit. Click on any of the images below to view a larger version and take a closer look. And don’t forget to check out the video at the end! Created by the QNOHP team, it does a great job of showcasing some of the history they’ve captured so far.