In the 1980s, a 3-story ark was built in Newark’s devastated Central Ward. Kea Tawana, a self-taught artist and builder, designed and built the massive boat by herself, using salvaged materials from 19th century buildings being torn down, in an area fast becoming an urban wasteland. She worked on it for years before Newark city officials 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 was written, directed, and produced by Susan Wallner. It is a production of PCK Media in cooperation with Stockton University. The half-hour documentary premiered on NJ PBS on February 20, 2021, and will be distributed nationally by American Public Television (APT) in 2022. For screenings, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Funding was provided by the NJ State Council on the Arts, the NJ Council for the Humanities, and the NJ 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.