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Transformation of Staten Island’s North Shore highlighted in two exhibits

The exhibits aim to get the community involved while also examining changes as they unfold

Victory Boulevard in Staten Island.
Gareth Smit

As part of the Future Culture: Connecting Staten Island’s Waterfront project, a culture plan examining ways to boost economic development within the rapidly changing North Shore, the island will showcase two exhibits from local artists that document the shifting community.

But the exhibits, spearheaded by the Design Trust for Public Space, aren’t meant to simply be passive affairs; the group is also encouraging public interaction by asking locals to submit their ideas for the transforming neighborhood.

The first exhibit, “Future Culture: Connecting People and Place on Staten Island’s North Shore,” calls upon locals to post personal projects and events on a map as a way to identify opportunities for public involvement in community initiatives. To get the word out, folks are also asked to add pictures to Instagram with the hashtag #connectingcultureSI. The installation will debut on Thursday, September 14 at 7 p.m. within Staten Island’s ArtSpace and will run through December 9.

The second exhibit, which will run concurrently at the Alice Austen House, will showcase the work of photographer Gareth Smit. For the collection, which he calls “North Shore,” Smit photographed residents of the North Shore—including a family who moved to Staten Island after being priced out of Brooklyn, and a young transgender man who is grappling with life in a relatively conservative part of New York City—to show how the area is changing.

Victory Boulevard, one of the main drags of the community, is the glue that holds the whole thing together; Smit’s photos capture locations like Tompkinsville Park, close to the water, and a mosque where residents go to pray. His photos will be on display through December.