Revolution NJ: Artistic Research Residency

Since 2019, Monument Lab has been working in collaboration with the New Jersey Historical Commission and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, both divisions of the New Jersey Department of State, to envision and develop a multi-site public art and history proposal to mark the 250th anniversary of the formal founding of the United States in 2026. Under New Jersey’s larger initiative to mark this anniversary, Revolution NJ, this proposal engages numerous historic sites related to the Revolution and explores how they could be remembered, connected, and layered with other historical narratives in the contemporary landscape of New Jersey. 

We began the process of proposal design by hosting an exploratory artistic research residency. The research residency brought together an invited cohort of 9 New Jersey-based practitioners including Tyrese Gould Jacinto, Elaine Buck & Beverly Mills, the Harriet Tubman Museum, Sankofa Stitchers (Juandamarie Gikandi & Mada Galloway), Kristyn Scorsone, Wendel White, Amber Wiley, Marisa Williamson, and Layqa Nuna Yawarto to reflect on the multiple genealogies of the American Revolution, legacies of Indigenous and African American historical figures and stories, and connections to contemporary revolutionary movements. This included approaches to commemorating the Revolutionary period that can continue crucial conversations generated by the renowned New York Times 1619 Project, which aimed to “reframe the country’s history by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of our national narrative.” 

Research residents were invited based on previous critical and creative work on the Revolution, as well as other participatory and contemporary approaches to art and history. As a deliverable, each resident was to produce a written and visual site-specific case study of a revolutionary site in their own community or that is important to their life’s work. This report reflects their key findings, summaries of their independent projects, and insights into how this brain trust inspired a new path for Monument Lab to come together for revolutionary pasts and futures.

Created with support from Revolution NJ came The Stories We Tell, a film series that illuminates undertold histories of the American Revolution. Informed by the larger collaborative artistic research residency, The Stories We Tell explores the process of history making, decontextualization and historical erasure as it manifests at sites associated with the American Revolution. Learn more and watch now >


Artistic Research Residents: Tyrese Gould Jacinto (Bridgeton, NJ), Elaine Buck & Beverly Mills (Hopewell & Pennington, NJ), Harriet Tubman Museum (Cape May, NJ), Sankofa Stitchers (Juandamarie Gikandi & Mada Galloway) (Princeton, NJ), Kristyn Scorsone (Kearny, NJ), Wendel White (Galloway, NJ), Amber Wiley (North Brunswick, NJ), Marisa Williamson (South Orange, NJ), and Layqa Nuna Yawar (Newark, NJ).

Monument Lab Team: Paul Farber (Artistic Director), Sue Mobley (Residency Director), and Kanyinsola Anifowoshe (Curatorial Intern)

Partners: New Jersey Historical Commission and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts

Image Credit: Amber N. Wiley, Original site of the Indian Queen Tavern/Bell Hotel, 2020. Courtesy of the artist.