AROUND NJ

Art installation revels in the intersection of art and technology

BY Joanna Gagis, Producer/Correspondent |

When poetry meets prose and adds a digital media effect, you get an art experience that’s truly unique.

That’s what artist Kambui Olujimi has brought to the Newark Museum. He’s transformed his original novella, “Wayward North,” into a variety of art projects called “Skywriters and Constellations,” that spans every medium.

“The story is a mythology, a contemporary mythology, and that is the basis for all the work in the project,” said Olujimi. “It’s an original narrative and it combines current events and personal histories.”

The project has several components, from the short video to 30 sculptures and several lithographs. Not all could fit in the museum, but what’s here offers a glimpse into the magnitude of the novella.

“Because it’s such a big narrative, the ‘Wayward North,’ and there’s so many different pieces to his project, we wanted to give people a little bit more of a sense of all the intricacies of the characters,” said Tricia Loughlin Bloom, the curator of American art at the Newark Museum.

Loughlin Bloom says that the museum doesn’t have the space to show large works. Olujimi suggested a cycle of 12 lithographs.

“It turned out to be the perfect amount for the space that we have,” Loughlin Bloom said.

One of the most unique aspects of Olujimi’s work is the intersection of art and technology. A thought-provoking narrative is told using dramatic images splayed across the dome of this planetarium, creating a totally immersive experience for the viewer.

“I remember years ago going I hate working on tech stuff, I hate computers. And I had a professor who looked at me like ‘are you serious?’ And, I don’t know, I just think of them as tools,” said Olujimi. “Whether it’s CNC routers or laser cutters, whatever the process that needs to be employed, whatever that process is, at the heart of it is a connection to humans.”

Loughlin Bloom says Olujimi’s project hits the major tenets of the museum’s mission — to offer art and science in a tangible way.

“He also has a unique role here in terms of helping us bring together our arts and science components. You know, we have the planetarium, which is the oldest planetarium in New Jersey,” she said. “His interest in astronomy and star charts and mythology is really multidisciplinary artist that fits really well with a lot of the audiences we want to reach.”

In the end, Olujimi says his work is about creating conversations. He believes there are more stories to be told.

“It’s a place for everyone to tap into their story-telling potential. It’s a platform. And so I think more than anything it’s like what’s in you. What are the stories inside of you,” said Olujimi. “We’re enriched by diversity of stories as humans.”