Snug Harbor Announces the Launch of Two New Exhibitions at the Newhouse Center for Contemporary Art

Roots/Anchors and Don’t Shut Up 2021

August 11, 2021 | Staten Island, NY— The Newhouse Center for Contemporary Art at Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden is once again opening its doors to art lovers across New York City.  Opening Day on Saturday, August 21 will launch two new exhibitions, Roots/Anchors and Don’t Shut Up 2021.

While the exhibitions will be located inside the Newhouse Center’s Main Hall in Building C and Gallery G located in Building G, with the entrance to Building G on Shinbone Alley, Opening Day festivities will be located in Shinbone Alley from 12:00 PM – 5:00 PM. Masks and social distancing are required for all attendees. This event will adhere to city and state guidelines related to COVID-19. Advanced registration is required to attend:

“We are elated to bring two powerful exhibitions with a roster of internationally acclaimed artists to the Newhouse Center at Snug Harbor,” said Melissa West, Vice President of Curation, Visual and Performing Arts at Snug Harbor. “Roots/Anchors considers the complex and nuanced histories of Snug Harbor as a site, landmark, and cultural space. Don’t Shut Up 2021 confronts the history of women’s activism in contemporary art with the work of 46 artists from diverse backgrounds and artistic practices. Both exhibits bring forward important conversations on identity, aesthetics, and what it means to be part of a community.”


The artists in Roots/Anchors parse out the spaces of the Newhouse Center to create site-specific regions with which to engage, interpret, and respond to the act and cultural symbolism of “dropping anchor” or adhering to a place. Anchoring, the process by which we affix ourselves somewhere, opens up a host of questions and problems. “Dropping anchor” calls to mind the first step of a nascent colonialism—it hearkens of arrival, and then the setting down of roots in a process that transforms a visitor or settler in to an inhabitant over a number of generations.  The exhibition will feature a catalog with introduction by Lucy Lippard.

Contemporary artists Xaviera Simmons, Shervone Neckles, Katie Holten, and Will Corwin unpack the cultural layers and unravel the myriad sailor’s yarns in this exhibition, contained in one of New York’s greatest unsung landmarks: the Newhouse Center for Contemporary Art at Snug Harbor.  Each of the artists pursue a trajectory, investigating or toying with an aspect of the institution’s history:

– Simmons considers the idea of romantic love amongst the sailors

– Neckles fits her own Grenadine life story and Caribbean traditions into the wide historical expanse containing the narratives of the native Lenape people, enslaved and free Africans on Staten Island, as well as the thousands of sailors who inhabited Snug Harbor

– Holten creates a new alphabet of wildflowers native to the New York region, distributes seeds, and inscribes their names onto sheets and pillow cases meant to evoke the transient life of the sailor

– Corwin equates the often contradictory imagery of adventure at sea and ship as safe space, linking it to the tradition of ships as transports to the afterlife. 

Don’t Shut Up 2021

Through interruptions, censure, violence and threatening behavior — both in person and online — women are silenced every day. Don’t Shut Up 2021 presents the work of 46 women 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 ensure that women’s voices are heard and valued.

“The erosion of women’s reproductive rights across the country and the increase in domestic and state violence against women inspired us to gather these artists together in an exhibition which loudly voices their concerns,” said Don’t Shut Up 2021 guest curators Susan Grabel and Stefany Benson.

Artists featured include: Audrey Frank Anastasi, Nancy Azara, Kyra Belan, Marcia Bernstein, Andrea Borsuk, Jo-Ann Brody, Pauline Chernichaw, Regina Corritore, Loren Dann, Anne Drager, Susan Duby, Sharyn Finnegan, Betsey Garand, Laura Gelsomini, Joan Giordano, Carol Goebel, Janet Goldner, Susan Grabel, Grace Graupe-Pillard, Zhen Guo, Melanie Hickerson, robin holder, Leigh Jerome, Carla Rae Johnson, Susan Kaplow, Tania Kravath, Barbara Lubliner, Cynthia Mailman, Virginia Maksymowicz, Ann Marie McDonnell, Marjorie Morrow, Vernita N’Cognita, Ruth Bauer Neustadter, Susan Newmark, Kristi Pfister, Helen Redman, Louise Reiner, Pam Shields, Clarissa Sligh, Linda Stein, Heather Topp, Audrey Ushenko, Doris Vila, Joyce Ellen Weinstein, Nancy Quin & Deborah Woodbridge

Video interviews with select artists are available at

Stefany Benson has been the Director of Ceres Gallery for the last fourteen years. Ceres is a feminist, not- for-profit, alternative cultural center in New York City dedicated to the promotion of contemporary women in the arts and the remediation of women’s under-representation in the larger art world. Benson was, herself, a visual artist but has focused her energies since 2007 on developing her feminist vision at Ceres and of creating dialogue and social change. The inspiration for her vision was originally sparked by a workshop she attended at Anderson Ranch in Snowmass, Colorado organized by performance artist Suzanne Lacy and artist, author, and art critic Suzi Gablik titled Making Art As If The World Mattered. Their vision for art was of an art world that valued not “art for art’s sake” but art for society’s sake. This workshop was instrumental in Benson’s consideration of art as activism and art as feminist activism to be specific. It is her hope that Don’t Shut Up 2021 will leave an indelible mark on the history of feminist, activist art.

Susan Grabel is a feminist, figurative, multimedia artist, curator and arts community organizer. Her work deals with the human dimensions of social issues. She takes to heart Alice Walker’s affirmation that “Activism is my rent for living on this planet.”  Said Robert Bunkin, former curator of the Staten Island Museum, “Influenced by her generation of 1960’s activism and her family’s humanist values, she has made a career of activism and storytelling, with a goal of increasing our awareness of social issues and ultimately our compassion.”  Grabel’s work has been exhibited in solo and group shows at galleries, universities, and museums across the country, including a retrospective at the Staten Island Museum in 2012. She was president of the NYC chapter of the Women’s Caucus for Art and active on the national level to help create opportunities for women artists. She continues that work as president of Ceres Gallery, a feminist gallery in NYC and has organized and curated numerous exhibitions and panel discussions around women’s issues.

Roots/Anchors and Don’t Shut Up 2021 are both made possible through generous support from the Samuel I. Newhouse Foundation, 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. Roots/Anchors is made possible in part by generous funding from the Dedalus Foundation, the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, and the Francis J. Greenburger Foundation. Don’t Shut Up 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.

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, Humanities NY, 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.

Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden is located at 1000 Richmond Terrace, Staten Island, NY and is open from dawn until dusk, seven days a week.  General admission to the Newhouse Center for Contemporary Art is $5 ($4 for students/seniors, free for Snug Harbor members and students grades 6-12 with student ID).  Hours for 2021 are Friday – Saturday from 12:00 PM – 7:00 PM and Sun from 11:00 AM – 5:00 PM.

About Snug Harbor

Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden is where art, history and nature converge. We offer dynamic programming in the arts, horticulture and agriculture for diverse communities and all ages, on our historic 83-acre campus. We envision being a locally impactful, globally renowned destination, true to our values of artistic vibrancy and community, inclusion and discovery, stewardship and conservation.

Snug Harbor is the result of more than four decades of restoration and development to convert a 19th-century charitable rest home for sailors into a regional arts center, botanical gardens and public park.  One of the largest ongoing adaptive reuse projects in America, Snug Harbor encompasses 26 historic structures, 14 botanical gardens, a 2.5-acre urban farm, wetlands, forests and park land on a free, open campus.  Snug Harbor is a proud Smithsonian Affiliate organization. Learn more at

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