Don’t Shut Up: Video Series

Through interruptions, censure, violence and threatening behavior — both in person and online — women are silenced every day. Don’t Shut Up presents the work of 47 woman artists from across the US and Canada who are working to challenge and disrupt the status quo through their ongoing artistic practice. The mission of this exhibition is to provide a platform for those voices, to create awareness, and to try to ensure that they are heard, valued and implemented.

Don’t Shut Up 2021, guest curated by Susan Grabel and Stefany Benson, is scheduled to open at the Newhouse Center for Contemporary Art at Snug Harbor in August 2021.  This video series explores the work and process of select artists from Don’t Shut Up in an effort to familiarize viewers with the layered, diverse perspectives and themes of the exhibit.

We live, then we die. There’s a ripple, then it’s gone. Leigh Jerome is consumed by the space between mortality and the infinite, knowing there is more to this world than we will ever know and far less than will ever suffice. She is an artist and a scholar and holds a doctorate in clinical psychology with expertise in pathology, psychophysiology, empathy, women’s issues and collaboration. Jerome has worked professionally as an artist for over two decades constructing additive, mixed media compositions and immersive installations within contextual narratives. Metal is her primary medium but she incorporates clay, textiles, found objects, wood, glass, light, sound, fragments, paint, bone & patina. In 2019 Jerome founded a new gallery, Relational Space, for artists and scientists to collaborate and co-curate immersive installations with evidence-based narratives. The gallery’s mission is to build a more just and sustainable world inspired through art and informed by truth.

Work on paper and unique artists books by Susan Newmark explore social concerns, place, memory and nature by integrating collage, paint, photo imagery and layered fragments from popular culture. She’s had ten solo exhibitions and has been included in group shows at the Brooklyn Museum, the Parrish Museum, recently at the Center for Book Arts, (Walt Whitman’s Words: Inspiring Artists Today):Established Gallery (Continuum), and Figureworks Gallery, (20 at 20). Newmark has had residencies at the Vermont Studio Center, the Lower Eastside Printshop, the Womens Studio Workshop, and Byrdcliff, and is in various collections and received grants from the Brooklyn Arts Council. She was Director for the Visual Arts at Abrons/Henry Street Settlement and curated The Storyteller: Olivia Beens, a retrospective at El Barrio Artspace, The Book as Art at Lehman College, and Dialogues for the Visual Arts, an artists’ conversation series at Tribeca Performing Arts Center and the Grand Army Plaza Library.

Heather Topp is a multimedia artist with a strong feminist/political bent that often reflects her community, social issues, geography and home. Part time studies at Concordia University, Montreal, Laurentian University and Cambrian College, Sudbury, Canada helped with the decision to continue expressing her voice in the arts. Many artist-run workshops throughout her life have been inspiring, challenging, and supportive for continuing her creative explorations and experiments. Topp’s community of Sudbury, Northeastern Ontario awarded her the first Mayor’s Celebration of the Arts award and she was also the first woman visual artist to be acknowledged by the Northern Lights Festive Boreal Jackie Washington Award.

Ann Marie McDonnell is a NYC artist and educator who has maintained a studio at Snug Harbor Cultural Center on the north shore of Staten Island for over 25 years. McDonnell’s artwork is often project based as a response to a particular exhibition, theme, competition, or personal project. She works in a variety of mediums including sculpture, printmaking, photography and jewelry.

McDonnell’s current project, A Contemporary Artist Responds to a Historic Collection, creates original artworks inspired by the Historic Richmondtown Museum’s historic object of art and utility. She has exhibited her work in many galleries and museums in NYC and received numerous awards and grants. McDonnell is known in the community for her public art bronze sculpture in Clove Lakes Park, The Bird Named Goldilocks, which won the 1994 Public Art Fund as well as other public art sculptures.

Loren Dann’s work explores intersectionality by exposing difficult questions and unraveling the tangle of answers surrounding this multi-dimensional topic. Dann’s multi-disciplinary approach gives a voice to those who feel distorted and encourages viewers to identify their own roles in forming society’s aesthetic expectations. Her work has been exhibited extensively in New York, Philadelphia, and New Jersey. Her freelance work appears on material cultural items, from album covers to handbags, creating a strong and recognizable presence.

robin holder is a bi-racial interethnic artist whose work centers on the manifestations of conflicted cultural, class, gender, religious and racial identity. She is a 2020 Clark Hulings Fund Executive Fellow. Her recent exhibition, Access and Inequities: I Hear You. Do You See Me, featured images in drawing, printmaking, digital manipulation, archival inkjet printing and painting which presents inequality and injustice in a comprehensive and universal perspective. Holder is a recipient of grants and awards from the New York State Council on The Arts, The Brooklyn Arts Council, Manhattan Graphics Center and The Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation.

Andrea Borsuk is a painter whose work explores notions of time and destiny, mortality and sexuality. She lives in Santa Cruz, California and is an Art Instructor at Cabrillo College in Aptos, CA. Borsuk’s solo and group exhibitions include: NUMU, The New Museum of Los Gatos, The Riverside Museum of Art, The Nevada Museum of Art, Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History, Monterey Penin-sula College Art Gallery, The Sanchez Art Center, and The San Jose Institute for Contemporary Art. She is the 2010/2011 recipient of the Rydell Visual Arts Fellowship and holds an MFA from Columbia Uni-versity and a BA from UC Santa Cruz.

Zhen Guo is a Chinese-American artist and curator born in China, graduated from Shandong Art School in 1976 and from the China Academy of Art 1982. Guo was one of the earliest explorers of art after the reform of China. She studied at San Francisco Art College in 1986 and was a visiting scholar at the School of Art of York University, Canada 1987. She established the Zhen Guo Art Studio in New York in 1988. Guo has participated in many international art exhibitions and is committed to the research and exploration of international contemporary women’s art. She organized the Existence International Women’s Art Exhibition, Changsha, China, the Please Touch: Body Boundaries exhibition at the Mana Contemporary of Art in the United States, and South Korea’s Jeonbuk Museum of Art Asian Women Artists exhibition.

Virginia Maksymowicz, born 1952 in NYC, is a sculptor living in Philadelphia. She received a BA in Fine Arts from Brooklyn College, CUNY and an MFA from the University of California, San Diego. Maksymowicz has exhibited her work at Franklin Furnace, Alternative Museum, Elizabeth Foundation, Grey Gallery, and the Michener, Woodmere and Delaware Museums, and in galleries throughout the U.S. and abroad. She was a recipient of an NEA fellowship in sculpture and her artwork has been reviewed in Sculpture Magazine, The New York Times, New York Newsday, The New Art Examiner and The Philadelphia Inquirer. Her series, The History of Art, appears on the cover of The Female Body (University of Michigan) and she was recently featured in Amtrak’s national magazine. She has thrice been a visiting artist at the American Academy in Rome, an artist-in-residence at the Powel House Museum, Philadelphia, and a fellow at the Vermont Studio Center. Website:

Clarissa Sligh works with text, photography, artist’s books, and installations. In 1955, when she was just 15, Sligh’s personal life intersected with national history when she became the lead plaintiff in a school desegregation case in Virginia. From that moment forward, her explorations of race, identity, history, and memory – first in math/science working for NASA, later in business, and finally, in the arts – has taken into account difference, transformation, and complication.

This project was inspired by a month of art and activism, called Don’t Shut Up, presented by FIG (Feminist Image Group) in San Diego, California in 2017.

Don’t Shut Up 2021 is made possible through generous support from the Samuel I. Newhouse Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, the New York State Council on the Arts, with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council. This project is made possible in part by a DCA Art Fund grant from Staten Island Arts, with public support from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs. 

The Don’t Shut Up video series is additionally sponsored by a Humanities New York Vision/Action Grant. Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this exhibition and website do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Snug Harbor arts programming is made possible through generous support from the Samuel I. Newhouse Foundation, Howard Gilman Foundation, Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, HumanitiesNY, and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.