DATMA, the non-collecting contemporary art institute in New Bedford, Massachusetts, kicks off its citywide venture of three free public art exhibitions, robust programmatic outreach, and educational workshops that use the concept of “shelter” to examine the history, economy, and culture of SouthCoast MA.

SHELTER: Flexible Fibers + Sustainable Solutions presents modern approaches to ideas of shelter by artists Do Ho Suh, Rael San Fratello, and Abeer Seikaly, who are from Korea, California, and Jordan, respectively. Each work ruminates on 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 through technology. The exhibition features Do Ho Suh’s “fabric architecture” sculpture exploring identity, migration, and memory; one of the largest bio-plastic 3D-printed structures to date by Rael San Fratello; and photographs by Abeer Seikaly of her structural fabrics system inspired by traditional Bedouin textiles.

Safe Station: New Bedford’s Underground Railroad tells the story of New Bedford’s significant history in opposition to slavery through the lens of local artists. Highlighting key figures and spaces central to the city’s African American community, works by featured artists Alison Wells, Fitzcarmel LaMarre, and students from Our Sisters’ School reflect on the stories of self-emancipated people, the history of the Underground Railroad, and the abolition movement.

Safe Harbor: Building the New Bedford Hurricane Protection Barrier, in partnership with the US Army Corps of Engineers, showcases rare historic photos documenting the ambitious design, engineering, and successful building of New Bedford’s 1966 Hurricane Protection Barrier while posing questions on how to protect the city from future climate-related events. This structure helps defend the city against the “force of nature” along the coast, where the raging sea had routinely caused destruction and devastation to the successful textile mills and fishing port.

SHELTER: 2022-23 is on view in New Bedford from now until September 12.

To learn more, visit datma.org.

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