Shelter 2022-2023: Where tradition meets technology

The history, economy, and culture of the SouthCoast region is rooted in the value of ‘shelter’—from the Underground Railroad that harbored African Americans from slavery, to the 9,100-foot-long hurricane barrier that protects the harbor of the #1 fishing port in the United States. This season, public outdoor exhibitions were installed along the city’s waterfront and in downtown New Bedford; indoor exhibitions were held at the UMASS College of Visual and Performing Arts Swain Studio, which is also seen at street level through their floor to ceiling corner windows. Per our mission, every DATMA exhibition is free and open to the public.

2022 exhibitions included the following artists; Rael San Fratello (California), Fitzcarmel LaMarre (New Bedford, MA), Do Ho Suh (South Korea), Abeer Seikaly (Jordan), Alison Wells (Trinidad and Tobago / New Bedford based), Our Sisters’ School (New Bedford), and rare archival and contemporary images from the U.S.Army Corps of Engineers.

Exhibition hours & locations

  • Safe Station: New Bedford’s Underground Railroad: Open all day outdoors on the YMCA green space on Union Street, between N.2nd & N. Water Street.
  • Safe Harbor: Building the New Bedford Hurricane Protection Barrier: Open all-day outdoors in Tonnessen Park, part of the harborfront Art Walk on Macarthur Boulevard next to the Black Whale & the Clam Shack. GPS address is: 106 MacArthur Dr., New Bedford, MA
  • Flexible Fibers + Sustainable Solutions: On view at UMass Dartmouth CVPA Swain Gallery at 715 Purchase Street in New Bedford. Indoor access is from 10am to 7pm daily, Sunday’s until 5:00pm.
Do Ho Suh, "Hub-1, Entrance, 260-7, Sungbook-Dong, Sungboo-Ku"

SHELTER: Flexible Fibers + Sustainable Solutions

This exhibition explores the fabrication of dwellings through the making of and engagement with unique materials that have resulted in striking architectural productions, community-based collaborations, and developments in new structural fabrics and spatial design. 

On view June 16 – Sept 12, 2022 at UMass Dartmouth CVPA Swain Gallery, the exhibition featured  Do Ho Suh’s ‘fabric architecture’ sculpture exploring identity, migration, and memory; one of the largest bio-plastic 3D-printed structures to date from Rael San Fratello and Mona Ghandi; and Abeer Seikaly’s photography of her structural fabrics system inspired by traditional Bedouin textiles. These works, and the creative processes behind them, demonstrate how new technologies weave unique materials and innovations to advance the viewers vision of home while reacting to the housing crisis in a humanitarian way.


Detail from "Protests on Union" Ⓒ Alison Wells 2019

Safe Station: New Bedford’s Underground Railroad

Safe Station tells the story of New Bedford’s unique history in opposition to slavery through the lens of local artists. Highlighting key figures and spaces central to the city’s African American community, each artists’ work reflects on the stories of self-emancipated people, the history of the Underground Railroad, and the New Bedford abolition movement. Featured artists include Alison Wells, Fitzcarmel LaMarre, and students from Our Sisters’ School. Local history and self-guided tours will be presented in collaboration with the New Bedford Historical Society and the New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park. Visitors can also access interactive digital components, VR tours, and videos originally created for the New Bedford Historical Society and UMass Dartmouth’s exhibition, Black Spaces Matter: Celebrating New Bedford’s Abolition Row.

Safe Harbor: Building the New Bedford Hurricane Protection Barrier

Completed in 1966, New Bedford’s Hurricane Protection Barrier began as a creative solution and a huge monumental task to shelter and protect the city and its harbor by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Seen also from space, the structure was designed with and against the ‘force of nature’ along the East Coast of New Bedford, where the raging sea had routinely caused destruction and devastation to the successful textile mills and fishing port. With the current issue of climate change, rising sea-levels, and fierce storms, DATMA worked in partnership with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to showcase rare historic photos documenting this ambitious, critical, and successful project while posing questions on how to protect the city from future climate-related events.
Barrier under construction, Courtesy of USACE
Barrier under construction, Courtesy of USACE

Explore more SHELTER exhibitions in downtown NB

Historic Homes of New Bedford

A collection of historic photographs of New Bedford homes from the 19th and early 20th century was presented. The exhibit will included photos from historic downtown, as well as the West and South ends and will focus on working class homes, many of which no longer exist. Some of the images in the exhibit are only available through the library as all other photographic evidence of these homes have been lost to time. The exhibit was be available in person at the Main Library and accompanied by an extended online experience and walking tour in collaboration with DATMA from May 12 through September 30.

Mayhew house, North side of Union, courtesy of Free Public Library
Ⓒ Corinne Spencer: Rose of Sharon, 2021


This exhibition featured work by women artists of color with diverse cultural backgrounds and unique perspectives. This contemporary exploration combines historical and present-day narratives that deal with the concept of safety, protection, and home. Curated by artist Alison Wells in collaboration with the gallery director Viera Levitt, Sheltered was on view from May 24 through September 8 with an exhibition opening and artist talk on AHA! Night on June 9 at 6 pm at the University Art Gallery at UMass Dartmouth CVPA at 715 Purchase Street in New Bedford. An opening Reception will be AHA! Night, Thursday, June 9, 6-8 pm; Artist Talks 6 pm. Exhibiting Artists: Gloretta Baynes, L’Merchie Frazier, Ekua Holmes, Meclina, Priestly, Corinne Spencer, Alison Wells.

Beauty and Resilience Within

Basic shelter is a key necessity; how this is defined varies as comforts within the built environment enhance daily life. Consideration for the diversity of building occupants and the importance of creating resilient spaces are emphasized here. Light, furniture, color, and art all help to enliven the spaces in which are occupied. This exhibition featured groupings of tactile and digital student work from the undergraduate Interior Architecture + Design curriculum coordinated by lecturers Rose Mary Botti-Salitsky and Stephanie McGoldrick. 

Beauty and Resilience Within will be on view from June 9 through September 8 with an exhibition opening on AHA! Night on June 9 from 6-8pm at UMass Dartmouth CVPA at 715 Purchase Street in New Bedford.

Fish Boats

Fish Boats is an exhibit and program series exploring fishing vessels as depicted by members of the fishing community in drawings, paintings, photographs, models, songs, poems, and stories. For those who make their living from the sea, fishing vessels are like family members, however, most people do not associate the industry’s workforce with the creation of art. This project will offer audiences a new lens through which to view fishing boats and its community from September 8 through March 31, 2023 at Fishing Heritage Center on 38 Bethel Street in New Bedford. AHA! Nights are always free.


For media inquiries, please contact: Edwina A. Kluender, KLÜNDER Communications [email protected] & PH 1.617.888.5859. Here is our downloadable press release: DATMA Press Release SHELTER2022 Announcement FINAL, 03.22.22


Take a Public Art Walking Tour on Your Time

Need to stretch your legs and catch some sunshine? Thanks to #NBCreative, there is a public art tour to help you explore public art in New Bedford throughout the city. This tour can take you from one artwork to another or simply help you identify the artwork you see everyday. It’s incredible how artists can

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