City of Newark, Division of Arts and Cultural Affairs

There are presently no open calls for applications.

               Harriet Tubman Monument RFQ

Mayor Ras J. Baraka and the City of Newark seek artists interested in designing a public monument of Harriet Tubman in tribute to the Underground Railroad and its historical significance to be installed in Washington Park.


Washington Park sits in the center of American history. The history of African-Americans in Newark dates to around 1680 when enslaved Africans are believed to have first been brought to the region. One block away from Washington Park, the Old First Presbyterian Church located at 810 Broad Street in Newark was once part of the infamous Underground Railroad. In the aftermath of the Civil War, a new population of Black migrants began to arrive in great numbers to Newark from southern states during what is known as the Great Migration. The story of Newark’s African-American populations is one of struggle against great odds to gain freedom, human and civil rights, and social, economic and political equality.

To honor Harriet Tubman and Newark’s role in the Underground Railroad, the City of Newark plans to install a new public monument and rename Washington Park to Tubman Square. Additionally, the City of Newark removed the Christopher Columbus statue from its pedestal in Washington Park amid calls for racial justice and equity and new public monuments that honor the historic liberation struggles of Black, Latinx and indigenous communities. The new Harriet Tubman monument will replace the Columbus statue.

The monument represents a step toward fostering a more diverse and inclusive public art collection for the City of Newark. The proposed location for the monument is Washington Park’s Broad Street entrance near the lightrail and the current goal is to install the new permanent public artwork in 2022.


This Request for Qualifications (RFQ) is to solicit artists or artist teams who are interested in being considered to design a permanent public monument of Harriet Tubman in Newark’s Washington Park. The artist chosen to design a monument will be determined through the City of Newark’s Division of Arts and Cultural Affairs commissioning process. If the artist or artist team does not live or work in Newark, candidates must also be willing to work with a Newark-based artist as an apprentice or collaborator on the project; the Division of Cultural Affairs can facilitate matching artists with qualified Newark-based apprentices


Professional visual artists or artist teams, working in any and all media, legally authorized to work in the U.S., and who are at least 18 years of age, are eligible to apply. Employees of the City of Newark and their family members are not eligible to apply. If applying as an artist team, please identify the team member who will serve as the lead artist.


This open call is organized into two phases:

Phase One is the RFQ in which artists or artist teams may respond with samples of past work and supplementary materials to be considered for the Harriet Tubman commission. The City of Newark’s Division of Arts and Cultural Affairs, in partnership with an advisory committee of outside arts and design professionals (the “Committee”), will select between three and five artists or artist teams to proceed to Phase Two of the open call (the “Finalists”).

Phase Two is a Request for Conceptual Designs in which Finalists will submit a conceptual design for final review by the Committee. Finalists will receive a $1,000 honorarium for completion of a conceptual design in response to the Request for Conceptual Designs. One artist will be selected by the Committee from Phase Two to finalize designs, fabricate and install the artwork in partnership with the City (the “Selected Artist”).

Phase One: Request for Qualifications

As part of Phase One, the City of Newark invites artists or artist teams to submit examples of past work for the Committee to review. Eligibility is based upon artistic merit as evidenced in previous work, though the artist or artist team need not have completed a prior permanent public commission. There is no submission fee. Submissions must be completed by 11:59PM on December 14, 2020.

Phase Two: Request for Conceptual Designs

As part of Phase Two, the City of Newark Division of Arts and Cultural Affairs will invite the selected between five and ten Finalists to submit conceptual proposals for review by the Committee. Finalists will receive an honorarium of $1,000 for submission of a conceptual proposal regardless of the number of concepts submitted. The City of Newark aspires to commission artwork of the highest caliber possible, and to set a national example for public art commissioning, while reflecting contemporary art practices and the vibrant communities where the work will be installed.

City of Newark, Division of Arts and Cultural Affairs