DATMA Issues National Call for Public Art Commissions Based on Shelter

September 12, 2022


Rael San Fratello, “Star Lounge” (2015), PLA plastic. Image courtesy of Andrew Kepinski

Massachusetts Design Art and Technology Institute (DATMA), the non-collecting contemporary art institute, and its partners kicked off a city-wide, collaborative venture called “SHELTER 2022–23.” As part of this initiative, DATMA is issuing a National Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for a public outdoor installation on the theme of shelter. New Bedford, Massachusetts will serve as a canvas for art exploring the role of shelter within the histories, communities, and cultures of the SouthCoast region and beyond.

DATMA welcomes artists to consider subjects including but not limited to housing, the Underground Railroad, and/or immigration. Three finalist submissions will be awarded a $1,000 stipend to develop detailed proposals. The final selected work will be awarded $25,000 to cover all artists’ fees, materials, travel, and installation. DATMA will also cover all costs associated with insurance, engineering, permitting, installation equipment, marketing, and PR, as well as overall support for the final selected project. Accepted mediums include mixed media, sculpture, installation, new genres, digital media, film and video, music composition, and photography.

Applications will be accepted beginning now through November 1, 2022. The public outdoor installation will be scheduled for viewing from June 16 to October 10, 2023, at a designated area by the corner of Union Street and Route 18 in New Bedford. The juror panel will consist of Jasmyn Baird, New Bedford Economic Development Council Senior Creative Fellow & Seaport Artwalk Manager; Patrick Shearn, Creative Director & Founder of Poetic Kinetics; and Pat Coomey Thornton, DATMA’s Program Committee Chair.

For more information and to apply, visit datma.org.


Abeer Seikaly, “Weaving a Home” (2020), rendering in Desert Environment, Jordan. Image courtesy of the artist

This past season, DATMA presented three individual exhibitions, robust programmatic outreach, and educational workshops which examined the history, economy, and culture of the SouthCoast region rooted in the value of shelter with topics including today’s housing crisis, the Underground Railroad that harbored Black Americans from slavery, the 9,100-foot-long hurricane barrier protecting the harbor of the nation’s most lucrative fishing port, and more.

Works by Do Ho Suh from Seoul, South Korea, Rael San Fratello from Los Angeles, California, and Abeer Seikaly from Jordan have already been presented. In partnership with the New Bedford Historical Society, DATMA also presented “Safe Station,” the story of New Bedford’s unique history in opposition to slavery through the lens of local artists including Fitzcarmel LaMarre, Alison Wells, and students from Our Sisters’ School. In addition, DATMA showcased rare historical photos documenting the critical New Bedford Hurricane Protection Barrier landmark sheltering the city from natural disasters.


Do Ho Suh, “Hub-1, Entrance, 260-7, Sungbook-Dong, Sungboo-Ku, Seoul, Korea” (2018), polyester fabric and stainless steel. Image courtesy of Lehmann Maupin

Abeer Seikaly, “Weaving a Home ” (2020), rendering at Al-Namara overlooking the Dead Sea, Jordan. Image courtesy of the artist





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