Jerry Gant

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Jerry Gant (November 21, 1961 – November 11, 2018)[1] was an American visual artist, poet, performance artist and educator.[2][3]

Early life and education[edit]

Gant was born in Newark, New Jersey.[4] He grew up moving around Newark with his mother. When he was young, he lost his father to alcohol, cirrhosis, and according to Gant, "It was poverty beating him into submission. He didn't die; he was killed."[2]

Gant attended West Side High School[2] and studied at Essex County College and the Newark School of Fine and Industrial Arts.[4]


Gant was active in the 1980s graffiti scene in New York City.[2] Influenced by African-American artists such as filmmaker Spike Lee, in the early 1990s, Gant started performing spoken word in New York City and Newark.[2] Gant creates artistic works textile and clothing design, metal sculpture, woodcarving, and wall murals.[5] Gant sought to reflect the spirit and community of Newark, while challenging stereotypes and conventional thinking.[6] He worked on art projects inside and often outside the "white-cube" in an effort to expand the role art can play in urban spaces.[6] Gant has worked on murals across every ward in Newark. He was also commissioned to create a number of public sculptures. Thirteen of Gant's sculptures are installed in Nat Turner Park.[6]

If Newark were to look for an artist that most represents it, it would be Jerry Gant ... No artist in this city has had a more visible presence or impact on the people of Newark.

— Kevin Blythe Sampson[5]

Art critic Benjamin Genocchio of The New York Times described Gant's sculptures that use found wood, metal and wire in his series of "ghetto blasters" as referencing "urbanity and the raw, explosive energy of music."[7]

Gant's murals can be seen in New York City, Boston, London, and Newark.[2]

Selected exhibitions[edit]

  • 2015 - I Might Be Next: Jerry Gant & Bryant Lebron, Paul Robeson Galleries, Rutgers University, Newark, NJ[8]
  • 2007 - My Brother's Thread, Cork Gallery, NY[4]
  • 2006 - ... but I was cool, Aljira, a Center for Contemporary Art, Newark, NJ[4]
  • 2005 - William Turner Sculpture Garden, Maplewood, NJ[4]
  • 2005 - Top Dog Underdog, Luna Stage Artist Space, Montclair, NJ[4]


  • 2006 - Artist in Residence Program, Gallery Aferro[4]
  • 2006 - Artstart Grant, Newark Arts Council[4]
  • 2005 - Creative Heartwork Residency Awardship[4]
  • 2010- Newark Museum Film Festival, Paul Robeson Award, Honorable mention Short Documentary; "BulletProof Ambition"


  1. ^ Jerry Gant
  2. ^ a b c d e f Selman, Carol (September 3, 2011). "Newark Visual, Performance Artist Jerry Gant: From Slave Ship to Mother Ship". Patch.
  3. ^ State of the Arts New Jersey. "I Might Be Next".
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i Aranda-Alvarado, Rocio (2012). Aljira Emerge 7 and Emerge 8. Newark, NJ: Aljira, A Center for Contemporary Art.
  5. ^ a b "B-Boys and Butterflies: The Stencil Art of Jerry Gant". The Newark Public Library. 2011.
  6. ^ a b c "New Jersey Symphony Orchestra and Gallery Aferro partner for 'Artist Box' initiative". October 8, 2014.
  7. ^ Genocchio, Benjamin (August 26, 2007). "From Young Storytellers, a Playful Tone". The New York Times.
  8. ^ Paul Robeson Galleries, Rutgers University. "I Might Be Next: Jerry Gant & Bryant Lebron".