West Ward Mural: Wyclef Jean

For our inaugural mural, we teamed with Newark-based Yendor Arts to identify a pool of qualified artists. After reviewing dozens of submissions, FABS was selected to create the first mural, located at 513 Central Avenue in the city’s West Ward Fairmount neighborhood.

Titled “Key to Life,” the mural depicts children dancing over piano keys, to represent how music influences a child’s development. On the right side of the mural is Wyclef Jean, a prominent musician who grew up in Newark and attended Vailsburg High School in the West Ward. The piano keys lead to Wyclef, showing that children can also find success in music. The mural includes an “Instagrammable moment,” with birds carrying a banner bearing the mural’s title.

The Project

The project also included beautification of the neighboring lot, with the installation of a patio, walkways, benches, decorative wrought-iron accent fencing, and flower gardens. The inaugural location chosen was on the side of a building recently acquired by the Urban League of Essex County. Previously a bar, the building now serves as an extension of the Urban League’s food pantry.

Attending the mural’s unveiling in October 2018 were representatives from the City of Newark, Newark Arts Council, The Urban League of Essex County, Prudential Center, Prudential Financial, and Wyclef Jean.

Art is Essential

Newark Mayor Ras Baraka also spoke, reinforcing the city’s pledge to arts-based initiatives. “A lot of times, we take artists for granted. We don’t do that in Newark,” he said. “We think art is essential to economic growth, to social growth, to intellectual growth, and to community growth. Without art, we don’t have community.”