A New World: Contemporary Art Exploring Dorothy Day’s Vision of Social Justice

From The Dorothy Day Guild

Saturday, December 16, 2017–Friday, January 12, 2018

The Gallery at the Sheen Center

The Sheen Center for Thought and Culture and the Dorothy Day Guild are pleased to announce the opening of the exhibit A New World:  Contemporary Art Exploring Dorothy Day's Vision of Social Justice. This visually striking assembly of work, including photography, painting, printmaking, and sculpture, brings together mainstream and marginalized artists inspired by Day's legacy of faith in action.  Conceived and curated by sculptor and painter, Anthony Santella, the exhibition will open on Saturday, December 16, 2017 in the Sheen Center's Gallery, 18 Bleecker Street, in New York City.  One and all are warmly invited to the opening reception, 5 to 7 pm, December 16.  The exhibition will run through January 12, 2018.

Dorothy Day (1897-1980), a journalist, activist, and convert to Catholicism who is on her way to being formally recognized as a saint in the Catholic Church, founded the Catholic Worker to serve the homeless and hungry during the Depression.  But her witness was not confined to charity; she challenged the unjust structures making charity necessary.  Today, her synthesis of deep, dogmatically orthodox religious faith and radical social action continues to pose a profound challenge to the liberal/conservative dichotomy of our age.  Santella, who first learned of Day as a college student, reflects that "For me, Day is a figure who unified a lot of the fragmented contradictions in life through a radical act of faith, one that is open to all of us to emulate."

The exhibit juxtaposes excerpts from Day's prolific writings with artwork addressing the ideals she devoted her life to: social justice, voluntary poverty, resistance to racial prejudice, nonviolence, Christian anarchism, and agrarian utopianism.  The roster of artists includes those whose work appears in The Catholic Worker newspaper as well as the formerly homeless and imprisoned.  Some work is overtly political; much addresses the show’s themes more obliquely. Yet each artist is driven to communicate a message of hope and warning as urgent in its own way as Day’s.

A centerpiece of the exhibit is a wooden shrine, built from driftwood collected on the beach in Staten Island, NYC, where Day had a cabin, demolished in 2000.  Artists and the public at large are invited to contribute small artifacts to the shrine, ex voto offerings that speak to their understanding of Day’s legacy of faith in pursuit of justice.

"I hope that everyone who sees the show can take away something that challenges their assumptions," Santella explains.  "Either about how the values of the gospel and those of our society coexist or about   how art can interact with faith and the challenge of justice -- hopefully in a way that can motivate change without becoming political in a partisan or tribal sense."


Arte Fogata, Robert Aitchison, Jackie Allen, Michal Behar, Patricia Bellucci, Geoffrey Gneuhs, GRIB, Alice Hendrickson, June Hildebrand, Imo Nse Imeh, Brian Kavanagh, Matt Kirby, Julie Lonneman, Lori Merhige, Milt Ohring, Frank Sabatté, Anthony Santella, Dennis Santella

About the Dorothy Day Guild:

Founded in 2005 in the Archdiocese of New York, the Dorothy Day Guild is the official body charged with forwarding the recognition of her sainthood.  To learn more, click here