A corner of the beautiful Trenton Free Public Library is a designated gallery for local artists to display their work and help showcase the library to visitors. This is the final location for a collaborative artwork produced by Trenton residents titled “US-A-TEAM” (pictured above).
This is the sole remaining library in Trenton. Trenton is fortunate to have such a safe haven where one can study the rich history of its past.
Three years ago the Princeton Artists Alliance and selected artists received an invitation from the New Jersey State Museum to participate in a collaborative exhibition to be held in the fall of 2014. The theme was its title, ‘’America Through Artists’ Eyes.’’
My entire career I had worked alone, so to find another artist to work with was not an easy task. Although not a native, I know Trenton quite well, having lived on South Broad Street after immigrating here in my 20s. I have exhibited widely at many Trenton venues.
I decided to look to Trenton first. Soon I found that there was a group of artists named the A-TEAM working out of the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen (TASK) on Escher Street. The meeting was arranged for me by Susan Darley, the arts program coordinator of TASK.
I was introduced to the artists at their Tuesday workshop. I explained that I would be honored if they would agree to work together with me in producing a joint piece of work. The theme I suggested should be to focus on what America meant to them as they went about their daily lives in Trenton. Each of them produced a unique piece of work. Most of the works were paintings, but some were poetic words from the heart. By the time all the participating artists showed me their work I had amassed about 20 original pieces from which I selected 16.
How could we present this as a single unique piece? I decided to take each separate painting and recreate an exact copy as a silk screen and incorporate the individual images into a single composition; all together there were more than 50 screens. The whole project took more than six months to complete and culminated in a boisterous opening at the New Jersey State Museum. Many of the TASK artists participated in the opening. It was encouraging to see how proud the artists were in the interest their work had generated for the general public. They were delighted to explain how they participated in this collaborative project.
After the ‘’America Through Artists’ Eyes‘’ show wound down, the work continued to move around the state and was exhibited at the Trenton City Museum at Ellarslie as part of the exhibition ‘’The African American Experience.’’ It then moved to the Noyes Museum in Oceanville, New Jersey, and finally to the New Jersey Arts Annual in Atlantic City.
After so much interest, the raw work of inner city Trentonians deserved to remain in Trenton. And after my first visit to the Trenton Free Public Library I realized there could be no better resting place than the beaux arts building on Academy Street — with on-site parking, no less.
Laura Poll, the archivist of the library, made this all happen and we are very pleased she did. The collaborative work is now on permanent display on the second floor of Trenton Free Public Library, 120 Academy Street.
Zenna Broomer was born in England and currently lives and works in Princeton. For information on the Trenton A-Team, visit www.trentoncommunityateam.org. For information on the artist, go to www.zennabroomer.com.