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IMMEDIATE RELEASE May 28, 2008 Contacts: ALLISON MCCARTNEY, THE NEWARK MUSEUM, 973-596-6638 [email protected] JERRY ENIS, HERBERT GEORGE ASSOCIATES (732) 446-5400 / [email protected]

BEADED PRAYERS PROJECT AT THE NEWARK MUSEUM, JUNE 4 ­ AUGUST 24 Beaded Blessings, Hands-On Workshop, Lecture Complement Feature Exhibition: Embodying the Sacred in Yoruba Art NEWARK ­ The Newark Museum will present The Beaded Prayers Project, a unique international community art initiative inspired by amulet traditions found in various cultures in Africa and throughout the world, June 4 through August 24. Begun by artist Sonya Clark in 1999, the project engages people of all backgrounds to create beaded packets that contain their personal written wishes, hopes, dreams or prayers which are then displayed in a traveling exhibition entitled Beaded Blessings. The quiltlike exhibition currently displays some 4,000 packets pinned on more than 104 two-footsquare panels. More than 4,500 individuals from 36 countries, ranging in age from six to 90, have thus far participated in the Project. Sonya Clark is Chair of the Department of Craft/Material Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts in Richmond, Virginia. According to the artist, The Beaded Prayers Project is her way of extending herself into the community, connecting with people through art outside of her own studio work, and creating an artwork that belongs equally to all of its participants. "From the exquisitely-crafted to the crudely-stitched, each beaded packet mounted on Beaded Blessings is a unique manifestation of individual aspiration and power," said Clark. "Those that resemble one another on the outside no doubt have different messages sealed inside. The diversity of packets is a celebration of the unique contributions each individual has to offer." The Beaded Prayers Project complements The Newark Museum's major new exhibition, Embodying the Sacred in Yoruba Art featuring more than 70 art works of spiritual significance from the 19th and 20th century. The Yoruba are one of Africa's oldest and most influential cultures. At the heart of the exhibition are works donated to The Newark Museum by New Jersey collectors Dr. Bernard and Patricia Wagner. (more)

THE BEADED PRAYERS PROJECT

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Both exhibitions are celebrated in a featured program, The Power of Beads ­ From Africa and Beyond, presented at the museum on Sunday, June 8, from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. The afternoon includes a lecture by Dr. Henry John Drewal, Evjue-Bascom Professor of Art History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, who will speak about Colors and Concepts: Beaded Arts of the Yoruba. Sonya Clark will present a lecture on the shared origins of beads and prayer across cultures and lead a hands-on workshop for participants to make their own beaded prayers. Public participation is limited to the first 100 registrants. The "beaded prayers" made by Newark Museum participants will eventually become part of the traveling exhibition. Beaded Blessings has been shown at venues as varied as the Canberra School of Art in Australia, the Montreal Arts Intercultural Gallery in Canada, and the Association of the Worldwide Study of the African Diaspora Conference in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. At The Newark Museum, it will be accompanied by a display of related works from the Museum's own global collections, including an amulet-studded hunter's tunic from Ghana, Tibetan prayer beads, European and American rosaries and Persian amulets. "As these art works testify," noted Project Director Christa Clarke, the museum's Curator of Africa, Americas and the Pacific, "many cultures attach spiritual significance to beads and many also believe in the sacred power of the written word. They speak to communalities of belief, reflecting The Newark Museum's tradition of working across cultures." -- end -ABOUT THE NEWARK MUSEUM The Newark Museum is located at 49 Washington Street in the Downtown/Arts District of Newark, New Jersey, just 3 blocks from NJPAC and 10 miles west of New York City. The Museum is open all year round: Wednesdays through Fridays, from noon ­ 5:00 p.m.; Saturdays and Sundays, from 10:00 a.m. ­ 5:00 p.m., October 1 ­ June 30; and Saturdays and Sundays, from noon ­ 5:00 p.m., July 1 ­ September 30. Suggested Museum Admission: Adults, $9.00; Children, Seniors and Students with valid I.D., $6.00. Members are admitted free. The Museum Café is open for lunches Wednesday through Sunday. Convenient parking is available for a fee. For general information, call 973-596-6550 or visit our Web site, NewarkMuseum.org. The Newark Museum, a not-for-profit museum of art, science and education, receives operating support from the City of Newark, the State of New Jersey, the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State--a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts, the New Jersey Cultural Trust, the Prudential Foundation, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, the Victoria Foundation, and other corporations, foundations and individuals. Funds for acquisitions and activities other than operations are provided by members and other contributors. The Newark Museum is just a few steps from the NJTransit Light Rail Washington Park Station. Direct connection with the Light Rail at the Broad Street Station and through Penn Station makes the Museum a convenient ride from all points in the region.

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