Nilson Gallery

The Nilson Gallery features the work of New Jersey artists, including the New Jersey Emerging Artists Series, a unique and exciting forum for NJ artists who have never had a one-person show of their work in our State. The artists selected for this Series represent the diversity of talent in the State and demonstrate their creativity in a wide variety of media. Gallery talks scheduled during the exhibitions offer artists the opportunity to share their stories and provide insight about what inspires and drives them in the creative process. 

Upcoming Exhibition: NJ Emerging Artist Series Changing Perspectives: Photography by Sherry Rubel


Artist’s Statement: 

I discovered “Tent City” in Lakewood, NJ, after a Google search on homelessness. Not having heard of it, I was surprised it was reasonably close to home. In 2011, I decided to make the trip to Lakewood. I was seeking a journalistic project that I could become passionate about and immerse myself in. Little did I know how this Google search would change the course of my life.

With unemployment rates stuck at decades-long highs and more and more people finding themselves without shelter as foreclosure rates rise, the nation is faced with an unsettling trend. People who have lost their jobs and homes are pitching tents and building shacks in the woods near middle-class neighborhoods as an alternative to sleeping in cars or being warehoused in shelters. They often are invisible to their neighbors and too often are faced with the hostility of local governments.

Tent City” in Lakewood, N.J., was just one of hundreds of these encampments around the country. It was established in 2005 as a way to organize the sporadic camps that dotted Ocean County and provide a level of safety and regularity to the hundreds of homeless men and women who came to call “Tent City” home. “Tent City” in Lakewood was the largest encampment on the East Coast. It was bulldozed in July of 2014 following a court ordered resolution which cost tax payers about $600,000.

In an effort to delve into the truth, I worked in collaboration with two New Jersey artists –journalist and poet Hank Kalet, and documentary filmmaker Jack Ballo – to bring the real faces and stories behind this national epidemic to the foreground. The work forces us to realize that tent cities are not going away. These encampments may very well become a normal and permanent part of our culture.


Artist Talks

Selected artists give an Artist’s Talk during their exhibition, offering the public insight into their artistic process. All opening receptions & Gallery Talks are free and open to the public. An Artist Talk with Sherry Rubel will take place on Wednesday, July 29, 2015 from 7-8 pm.