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COURAGE was created by Adama Delphine Fawundu, the Rutgers University - Newark BOLD Women's Leadership Network, and Project for Empty Space. The mural was conceived of by Fawundu in collaboration with Newark-based BOLD students through a series of virtual workshops in early 2022. It hopes to amplify the mission of the network to support femme-identified leaders and agents of change.

Funded and supported by the Helen Gurley Foundation, the BOLD Women's Leadership Network is facilitated by six different universities and strives to provide experiences such as this initiative that empower and create unique leadership opportunities. Rutgers-Newark is an anchor institution that is deeply committed to supporting socially-engaged art in collaboration with other arts organizations such as Express Newark, Project for Empty Space, and New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) to name a few.

Collaborating interdisciplinary artist, Fawundu’s work centers on womanhood, and honoring femme ancestral power. Through this collaboration, a massive mural was designed to stretch across a seventy-foot, four-story façade and illustrate the collective strength of our community of women. The composition includes gradating shades of orange and yellow and a strong femme-form rising from our local landscape. Her bodice is collaged from indigo fabrics, and wrapped with cowrie shells. It reaches into the earth with thick, solid roots. Cherry blossoms shower the façade—a local signifier of renewal, strength, and beauty. Surrounding the figure, the quote, “Because of them I can now live the dream. I am the seed of the free, and I know it. I intend to bear great fruit, by Sojourner Truth provides recognition to the American abolitionist and women’s rights activist. The mural’s scale functions as a monument, celebrating our everyday courage and its promise for the future of women.

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Courage was created in partnership with Project for Empty Space (PES), a woman-owned, femme-powered nonprofit, organization co-directed by founder Jasmine Wahi and RU-N alumni Rebecca Pauline Jampol in downtown Newark. PES is a radical arts ecosystem for creatives and hosts a myriad of exhibition programs, artist residencies, and public art initiatives orientated around social impact, activism, and future-making.

Collaborating Rutgers-Newark BOLD scholars include Angelica Dematas, Brenda Deza, Daniela Bogantes, Deborah Alonge, Gabriela Calvin, Giovanna Bialoglowka, Hadacha Rodriguez, Jene Irving, Karoline Gonzalelez-San, Katherine Cardenas, Keionna Thomas, Laila Jones, Lanae AliLizet N Portillo, Marianne Brown, Mary O Ogundare, Priscila Cruz, Rebeca Vera, Romina Ventura, Sameeha Rao, Sehrish Taqween, Shannon Smith, Shante Breedlove, Tammy T Galarza, Titilayo Afolabi, Tonanziht Aguas, Valery Mena, and Victoria Aderibigbe.

This initiative was made possible with the support of the Helen Gurley Brown Foundation and Rutgers University – Newark.

“The work of BOLD and the mural honors the life of Helen Gurley Brown, a trailblazer, instigator, and staunch feminist. She is noted as having been unapologetically herself and believed that every girl, every woman should have the space to do the same while pursuing an education, building a career, and achieving her life’s ambition. “Our BOLD scholars embody her spirit and they collectively created a mural that demonstrates empowerment.”
—Dr. Jennifer M. Bucalo, BOLD Director

“The most exciting thing about creating this mural was the opportunity to collaborate with the BOLD Women’s Leadership Network. We get to see the powerful mural, but what we don’t see is the process. The process of exchanging energy, thoughts, and laughter with this young vibrant group, exuberates in the radiant mural.” —Adama Delphine Fawundu, Artist

“This mural pays tribute to the legacy of past femme-identified social change agents who dared to be their authentic selves and fight for freedom and justice even when confronted with what others deemed as insurmountable odds. We, current and future activists, owe our femme ancestors a great debt and stand on their shoulders as we continue the struggle for access, inclusion, and equity. As an incredibly diverse and intergenerational group, our phenomenal Rutgers-Newark BOLD scholars are uniquely positioned to carry on this critically important work well beyond college that will undoubtedly change their lives, and ours.” —Dr. Sherri-Ann Butterfield, RU-N Executive Vice Chancellor and BOLD Lead

“This partnership brings together organizations, artists, and students that are making great strides to empower women from our communities. We have together built a mural that not only shares a striking story of our collective strength but is also a mechanism to confront everyday gender bias and encourage passersby to understand the power of womanhood.”

—Rebecca Pauline Jampol, PES Co-Director

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