DATMA and its partners will kick off a city-wide, collaborative venture called “WATER 2021” this summer and offer free, public art to all in New Bedford.
This public outdoor exhibition will showcase largescale but intimate photographic portraits that celebrate the women of the fishing industry around the globe by three artists: Hyung S. Kim, Phil Mello, and Craig Easton. The particular form of fishing in each region – South Korea, America, and the United Kingdom – will be celebrated with photographs to inspire appreciation for the heroism of these underrepresented women and for the talents of the artists who have portrayed them.
Hyung S. Kim’s photographs feature Haenyeo, female divers in the Korean province of Jeju Island whose livelihood consists of harvesting a variety of abalone, clam, and other sea life from the ocean. Kim has documented over 300 Hanyeos from 2012, capturing the women behind the dive. The number of Haenyeo are significantly declining and currently most Haenyeo range in age of 60 to 80. In 2016, the Haenyeo were added to the UNESCO List of Intangible Cultural Heritage.
Phil Mello’s photographic portraits focus on New Bedford’s local waterfront workers, from fish cutters to purveyors, from welders to auctioneers, from lumpers to inspectors, as well as fisherwomen, each vital to the daily operation of supplying seafood to market. This has been part of a project Mello began in 2008 and continues today, documenting the local fishing industry by showing the people who work in it.
Craig Easton’s series FISHERWOMEN follows the historic route of the UK herring fleet, telling a compelling and critical tale of a unique phenomenon in the history of British women at work. From the early 19th until mid-20th century, the herring fishery was one of the most important industries in Scotland. As the fleet tracked the annual migration of the fish, the “Herring Lassies” – a unique band of female-only migratory workers – would mirror the journey on land, stopping in each port to work along the way. The tradition of ‘going to the herring’ was passed from mother to daughter for generations. Today, fisherwomen no longer work on the quay, but are found mostly behind closed doors, working unseen in large fish processing factories, smokehouses, and small family firms all around the UK coast, still fiercely proud to be continuing a great heritage.
Harvesters of the Deep: Portraits of Fisherwomen from South Korea, America, and the United Kingdom will be shown free and open to the public in New Bedford, MA along the harborfront walkways on Macarthur Boulevard and in downtown along Union Street between Water Street and North 2nd Street, from June 17 to October 17, 2021. The exhibition will be accompanied by a digital catalogue with text translations in Portuguese and Korean. The New Bedford Fishing Heritage Center is an official partner.