History & Mission
Excellence & Acclaim
Staff & Board
Volunteering & Internships
Facility Rental

History & Mission

Our History
In 1983, artists Victor L. Davson and Carl E. Hazlewood envisioned Aljira, a Center for Contemporary Art, as a place which would embody the essence of its etymological roots. By selecting the name Aljira, the Australian Aboriginal word for dreamtime, the founders defined the heart of Aljira’s mission, a mission that embraces the concepts of timelessness and open possibilities—ideas inherent in the creative process.

Aljira continues to be open to possibilities and plays an integral role in the professional life of many artists. Our work began on the fourth floor of a building with no elevator, no air conditioning, and no direct access to the street. We made progress when we moved to 591 Broad Street and opened the doors of contemporary art to our Newark streets.

Our Mission:
Aljira, a Center for Contemporary Art, fosters excellence in the visual arts through exhibitions and educational programs that serve as catalysts for inclusiveness and diversity, promote cross-cultural dialog, and enable us to better understand the time in which we live. Public understanding and support of the visual arts are strengthened through collaboration and community-based educational programming. Aljira seeks out the work of emerging and under-represented artists and brings the work of more established artists to our community. Through the visual arts Aljira bridges racial, cultural and ethnic divides and enriches the lives of individuals.

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image spacerAljira Storefront

Excellence & Acclaim

Aljira is a not-for-profit contemporary visual art center, founded in 1983, to promote the work of emerging and under-represented artists.

  • Aljira Design, a graphic design service, was founded in 1991 as a result of accolades for the communication materials emanating from Aljira.
  • In 1993, Aljira was selected by the Federal Advisory Committee on International Exhibitions to organize the United States’ representation at the IV Bienal Internacional de Pintura in Cuenca, Ecuador. The project was so successful that it was extended to ten additional countries and 12 cities.
  • In pursuing its mission of service to the community, Aljira was the catalyst for a project in 1996 that brought the first public art work to downtown Orange, NJ since World War II.
  • A full fledged design studio for Aljira Design was established at Aljira in 1996 as a result of a grant from The Arts Challenge Fund.
  • “In recognition of Aljira’s continued high standard of excellence in artistry, public benefit and leadership,” the New Jersey State Council on the Arts designated Aljira a Distinguished Arts Organization for 1996/97.
  • Aljira at the Academy, a satellite exhibition space with children as its primary audience, was inaugurated in 1998 in collaboration with Sharon Miller’s Academy for the Performing Arts, Montclair, NJ.
  • Aljira Emerge, a professional development program designed to provide practical and timely career advice for emerging artists was launched in 1999.
  • Aljira’s Young Curators, a multi-disciplinary program that asks young people to decode and interpret art they see in the many contexts in which it is created, was initiated in 2000.
  • In 2001, Aljira received a major gift in the amount of $500,000 from the Prudential Foundation to seed its endowment and support its relocation to Newark’s downtown arts district.
  • In 2001, Aljira was one of eight institutions in the nation chosen by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts to participate in the Warhol Initiative, a capacity building effort for small to mid-size visual arts organizations.
  • Aljira was one of ten New Jersey cultural institutions selected to receive the Governor’s Award in 2002.
  • In January 2003, Aljira opened its newly renovated facility at 591 Broad Street in time to celebrate its 20th anniversary in 2004.
  • In July 2003, Aljira was designated a Major Arts Institution by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.
  • In 2003, the New Jersey State Council on the Arts awarded Aljira a citation of excellence for its pilot program offering strategic planning for artists, presented in collaboration with Creative Capital, a national organization that supports artists pursuing innovative approaches to form and content.
  • In 2005, as a result of its pilot program with Creative Capital, Aljira redesigned the Aljira Emerge program to offer strategic planning seminars for artists.
  • In 2006, Aljira’s Young Curators was renamed Culture Creators and expanded to serve four Newark Public Schools.
  • In 2009, Aljira Design completed its lifecycle and closed after 18 years of providing distinctive design services for print.
  • In 2009, Aljira partnered with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Newark to introduce teens to careers in the arts while learning to produce and promote an original video.
  • In 2009, Aljira received major funding from The Andy Warhol Foundation for Visual Arts and New Jersey Cultural Trust to undertake a comprehensive strategic planning process and upgrade its technology.
  • In 2010 and 2012, Aljira partnered with La Casa de Don Pedro to offer learning programs in the arts for Newark teens.
  • Aljira has been designated a Major Arts Institution by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts from 2006-2016.

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image spacerDahlia Elsayid installation

Staff & Board

Staff & Consultants
Aljira is currently restructuring its staff and consultants.

Board of Trustees
Patricia A. Bell
Richard Cammarieri
Victor Davson, Founding Director, ex officio
Anne DeVivo DeMesa
Cory Douglas, Chair
Natasha Dyer, Treasurer
Blake Johnson, Vice Chair
Kitab Rollins

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Volunteering & Internships

Join a small, energetic team by becoming an Aljira volunteer or intern. Aljira’s volunteer and internship program provides high school students, college students, and volunteers of all ages with hands-on experience in all aspects of running a busy, non-profit visual art center.

Gain practical skills needed to advance careers in the arts and non-profit fields. Volunteer and internship positions are tailored to the needs of applicants and include event planning, marketing, curatorial and exhibition assistance, new media development, fundraising and general administration.

Internships and volunteer work are unpaid, although college credit is available. Internships typically last from one to six months. Volunteer work can be occasional or ongoing.

To Apply
First, click here to send us a message expressing your interest.
Second, please mail, email or fax, attention Afieya Kipp, your resume and a cover letter that describes your interests, why you have selected Aljira, and what you hope to accomplish as a volunteer or intern. Please indicate what timeframe you will be available.

Download our current volunteering and internship opportunities description pdf.

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Facility Rental

Looking for an elegant space in Newark’s downtown arts district?
Our contemporary, loft-like facility has a ground floor entrance with storefront street visibility and drive-up access for cars and deliveries.

With 15-foot ceilings, adjustable lighting and movable walls throughout it is a flexible space suitable for business meetings and larger receptions. 2,000 square feet of space; standing room for up to 200 persons; sitting room for 125.

For a $300 refundable deposit, you can bring catering of your choice to your event. Alternatively, you can work with our superb caterer/events firm, David Ellis Events, who will ensure a successful event that you’ll be so proud of, you’ll want to spread the word that Aljira’s widely applauded contemporary art exhibition program is housed in a wonderful space available for your next event.

For information about renting Aljira, a Center for Contemporary Art’s facility, contact us at 973 622-1600 or via email at info@aljira.org. Please include a phone number and when best to reach you.

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image spacerAljira Facility