EL DORADO – The New Forty Niners: Outdoor Art Exhibition

January 1, 2021 @ 8:00 AM – June 30, 2021 @ 5:00 PM

Promoting ideas of transformation, immigration and community, Cecile Chong’s EL DORADO – The New Forty Niners is a public art installation traveling to each of the five boroughs of New York City. The project pays tribute to the 49% of New York City households that speak a language other than English.

ON VIEW: Through March 31, 2021

WHERE: North Meadow of Snug Harbor, between North Gate on Richmond Terrace and Newhouse Center for Contemporary Art (Building C)


One hundred “guagua” sculptures—many which have bloomed into a floral motif—are installed on Snug Harbor’s North Lawn. This sculptural form is based on swaddling, the age-old practice of wrapping infants in blankets in various cultures.

This site, suggesting an archaeological location, is configured in a diamond shape which can be interpreted as an abstract boat or compass needle, to honor the maritime history of Snug Harbor and Staten Island. Installed 6 ft. apart, this installation alludes to our current times requiring us to be 6 ft. apart to protect our health and safety.

Cecile Chong is a multimedia artist working in painting, sculpture, installation and video in which she layers materials, identities, histories and languages. Her work addresses ideas of culture interaction and interpretation, as well as the commonalities humans share both in our relationship to nature and to each other. Inspired by materials as signifiers, she is interested in how we acquire and share culture, and how world cultures now overlap and interact in ways previously inconceivable. With uncertainty looming in everything from our economies to our weather patterns, she’s concerned with the fragility of our civilization despite the universality of its cultural underpinnings. In her work she’s been looking at traditional artifacts and wondering what tangible relics we may leave for future generations and what they may say about who we were and how we lived.

EL DORADO – The New Forty Niners is supported in part by generous funding from the Samuel I. Newhouse Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, and the Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.