Community art project seeks to brighten Camden’s reputation in New Jersey

Artist Erik James Montgomery has called Camden home for the past 20 years and is helping to clean up some of the city with his work.
Montgomery has put up posters with photo portraits he has done of Camden residents, which are being hung up on abandoned buildings throughout the city.
“When I look at these images, what I see is a group of individuals who represent Camden. Different age groups, different cultures, different background,” he says.
The “Bright not Blight” campaign is part of a larger project called “A New View Camden.” The committee behind it was supposed to debut public art pieces this spring in eight different areas where illegal dumping has become an issue.
“Every now and then we come out, we find bags of trash, we find piles of tires, we find televisions, refrigerators – all kinds of stuff,” says Coopers Ferry Partnership project manager Vedra Chandler.
Chandler says that those art pieces will debut next spring, put on hold because of the pandemic.
Montgomery’s portraits are part of the project.
“Right now, we’re doing 50 on abandoned buildings and things of that nature. But next year will be the full stream of 100 people,” Montgomery says. “Everywhere you look you’re going to see Camden represented through photography.”
Montgomery and Chandler say that they hope that the effort will help others see Camden in a different light.
“Camden is not a place where you can come and dump your trash or your tires. It is our home. It is a beautiful, vibrant city fully of amazing people and making amazing progress,” Chandler says.
A New View in Camden - with eight different public art pieces - will debut in 2021. The Coopers Ferry Partnership says that they are planning events to go along with each art piece to educate the public on illegal dumping and its impact on the city.