Placemaking with a Purpose: In the Classroom with NB High Students & muralist, Silvia Lopez Chavez

Creating “Community Tides” with Silvia López Chavez & New Bedford High School students

In partnership with DATMA, artist Silvia López Chavez, and NORPEL Fisheries, a select group of New Bedford High School students collaborated to create DATMA’s first ever semi-permanent piece of art, “Community Tides.” This impactful 3D mural highlights our community members and the local fishing industry, the lifeblood of our region’s past, present, and future. In this process, students were taught about the artist’s use of STEAM technology, design innovation, and applied material research to help create the public artwork now installed on the Norpel Fishery exterior wall adjacent to a prominent New Bedford artery, the New Bedford- Fairhaven Bridge.

Silvia López Chavez discussing her public art career and the design technologies she uses to create her work with NBHS students, Spring 2023

This mural is a featured exhibit in DATMA’s program series entitled, Shelter 2023, and is DATMA’s first semi-permanent installation. Under the guidance of DATMA’s Artist Mentor and STEAM educators at New Bedford High School, the 3D Wall Mural gave students the confidence to use design and technology tools expanding their range of problem solving methods. These young pioneers worked directly with the artist to help guide the content and participate in the fabrication of this new cultural placemaking indicator for the 30,000+ daily cars that pass through the bridge each day.

30 New Bedford High School Students 11th & 12th Grade students from 3 courses including; Advanced Art, Engineering, and 3D Printing DATMA’s workshop was the first time students from these 3 areas of study have been paired together to collaborate on a project at New Bedford High School.

Thank you to our Academic Advisors for this program: Lynn Souza, Director of Fine Arts, Ron Ho, Science Instructional Leader, Alanna Boucher, Visual Art Teacher, and James Nanasca, Director Design Technologies, New Bedford Research & Robotics. 




Exploring Creative Careers — learning 1:1 from a professional visual artist, students experienced the process of creating meaningful public art from concept to execution.

Applied STEAM Learning — through photography, graphic design, 3D-printing, and other STEAM-based art practices, students engaged with the artist’s stencil design process and created 15 unique patterns incorporated into the final installation.

Community Impact — student’s direct engagement with local art organizations, the fishing industry, practicing artists, and their own peers created lasting impact in New Bedford’s community and visual landscape.

Practicing Public Art & Design — student designs are now permanently seen by over 30,000 cars daily driving by the site, and part of DATMA’s first semi-permanent public art project in New Bedford.