Call to Artists: Remembering Robeson Sculpture Project

The Downtown Somerville Alliance (DSA) invites qualified artists to submit proposals for the creation of a life-size sculpture of Paul Robeson to be prominently displayed in downtown Somerville, NJ.

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The Downtown Somerville Alliance (DSA) invites qualified artists to submit proposals for the creation of a life-size sculpture of Paul Robeson to be prominently displayed in downtown Somerville, NJ. 


Paul Robeson, a distinguished figure in American history, graduated from Somerville High School in 1915 and became the first Black football player on the Rutgers College Football Team. With his remarkable achievements and formative years spent in Somerville, the DSA aims to celebrate Paul Robeson’s legacy, promote the rich Robeson Family history and African American heritage, and solidify Somerville’s place within this remarkable narrative.

This placemaking project seeks to honor Somerset County’s diverse history while showcasing public art that enhances accessibility and awareness. By collaborating with the Borough of Somerville and Arts on Division, the DSA aims to realize the vision of the Paul Robeson Sculpture Project. Arts on Division, a charitable organization dedicated to fostering community through the arts, will provide valuable input and feedback on the sculpture, interpretive elements, and programming.

The DSA is committed to partnering closely with the Borough of Somerville, adhering to the organization’s Public Art Plan, and coordinating efforts to ensure the smooth installation of the sculpture at the Division Street location. In addition, the DSA will collaborate on marketing, outreach, and programming with the Borough. By engaging with various community groups, this project seeks to contribute positively to the quality of life for all residents and advance economic and community development in the downtown Somerville community and its surrounding areas.

Considering the national reckoning with race and the renewed emphasis on inclusivity in art spaces, the DSA recognizes the importance of representing diverse voices. We encourage submissions from BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) artists and will give preference to their proposals for this project.

The sculpture will serve as a symbol of Somerville and Somerset County’s forward-thinking spirit, appealing to a multicultural public and fostering unity and identity within the downtown Somerville experience through creative activation. By integrating this sculpture into a free public art installation, we aim to eliminate access barriers and provide a visually striking marker for connecting with the Black experience in America.

Key Dates:

– Proposals Due: September 15, 2023

– Intent to Complete Contracts and Issue Deposits: Before October 31, 2023

Submission Guidelines:

– Artists must submit a proposal outlining their artistic concept, approach, and vision for the Paul Robeson sculpture.

– Proposals should include sketches, visual representations, or other relevant materials to help convey the artist’s ideas.

– Artists must provide a detailed budget and timeline for the completion of the project.

– Include a brief artist biography or CV, highlighting relevant experience and previous public art projects.

– Submissions must be sent electronically to the DSA by the deadline specified.

To request additional information or submit proposals, please contact:

Submit to: 

Standard Mail

Downtown Somerville Alliance

Address: 50 Division St, Ste. 501, Somerville, NJ 08876

Phone: 908-524-0104

Or via email to  

Join us in celebrating the extraordinary legacy of Paul Robeson and his impact on Somerville’s history. Together, we can create a powerful and inclusive public art installation that will enrich the cultural fabric of our community.

The Paul Robeson Sculpture Project is generously funded by a Local Arts Program Grant from the Somerset County Cultural and Heritage Commission; a partner of the New Jersey State Council on the Arts

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