Highland Park’s Chamber 43 hosts night of creativity, art

Calling all local rock gods out there! Named because it is located between Forth and Third Avenue in Highland Park, New Jersey, the record shop Chamber 43 was home to inspiration this past Saturday.

Chamber 43 hosted “A Day of Art/Evening of Music” which brought together several local poets and artists looking for an outlet to share their material. The store itself is owned by David L. Martins, who is a manager and producer of the DLM Recording Studios LLC.

Chamber 43 is also known for its vintage vinyls including genres such as rock, jazz, pop, electronic and more. The first half of the event started at Chamber 43, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. featuring a visual arts show. The second half was at Pino's Gift Basket Shoppe and Wine Cellar and Lounge, which began at 7 p.m.

One performer was Imani Ali, a School of Arts and Sciences junior and a member of SCREAM Theater. She also works at the Office for Violence Prevention and Victim Assistance as a crisis advocate.

“At a SCREAM meeting, someone was involved in Verbal Mayhem," Ali said. "They did a powerful poem on their experience with sexual assault and I closed my eyes before she started it and it was so visual. A couple months later we had the Denim Day Fashion Show and a collaboration with Verbal Mayhem and I was so nervous to walk down the runway. ”

Ali is a survivor of sexual assault and what inspires her most is her experience and her journey to overcome it. She mainly focuses her writing on sexual assault, rape and stalking. She wants others to not be afraid to speak out against sexual violence.

“I put all my energy through writing and when I perform it, I feel all the energy come back. Poetry is very therapeutic for me. If you are a survivor or know anyone that has gone through this, just know Rutgers is a very safe space. We have two organizations at Rutgers called 'No More' and 'SCREAM Theater,' they are very warm and touching clubs,” she said.

Another poet was Justan Mitchell. Before poetry, he began journaling and figuring out what words rhymed with others.

“People told me what I was journaling was poetry. I thought it was just rap. Now knowing that rap is an acronym for poetry. I was a poet and didn’t know it,” Mitchell said.

On Saturday he performed two poems, the first was called “The Near Perfect Gift,” which was inspired by a woman who had “mind, body and spirit.” The second one was called, “Poison Unto Me.”

“If I don’t give back what I’ve learned, that was freely given to me … If I learned something in books or anywhere, it is my duty I should share it and try to give it back to other people who may need the information. If I don’t give back what was freely given to me, then let there be poison unto me.”

Now, Mitchell is trying to pursue a career as a motivational speaker and to continue poetry. After asking if he would be willing to come to Rutgers and speak, he said that he would love to sit in front of students and teach them about “dream building.” 

Mitchell said he would tell the students “don’t say you are a diamond in the rough, you are already a diamond and that’s enough.” His final words were “seek and understand truth.”

In addition to the many poets, there were artists too, such as first-year student Lauren Reidy. She enjoys working with mediums by combining paint, papers or brochures. She is also inspired by people and what is around her.

“I like adding dimension by working with shading. It is my therapy. Rutgers Art and Design club is a great way to just draw and express myself,” she said.

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