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.

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.

Our 2023 line-up will be announced in coming weeks. Stay tuned! We can’t wait to share it with you. 

Per our mission, every DATMA exhibition and event is free and open to the public.

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

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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