Kea’s Ark tells the story of how a 3-story ark came to be built in Newark’s devastated Central Ward in the mid-1980s. Kea Tawana, a self-taught artist and builder, designed and built the massive boat by herself, using materials salvaged from 19th century buildings being torn down in an area fast becoming an urban wasteland. She worked on it for years before Newark’s newly-elected mayor Sharpe James took note and demanded it gone. It no longer exists, but Kea’s Ark remains a powerful symbol of hope in Newark and beyond.
Kea’s Ark is a production of PCK Media in cooperation with Stockton University. The half-hour documentary premiered on NJ PBS on February 20, 2021, and can be seen here. Underwriting was provided by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, the New Jersey Council for the Humanities, and the New Jersey Historical Commission. Kea Tawana’s work is presented in cooperation with Gallery Aferro and The Clement A. Price Institute on Ethnicity, Culture, and the Modern Experience at Rutgers University-Newark.