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Amplifying Underrepresented Stories: Shanequa Benitez

In But It's Ours, Shanequa Benitez uses large-scale, vibrant paintings and documentary photographs to depict the experiences of environmental racism and redlining in Yonkers, New York. The exhibition explores the intersection of systemic oppression, climate crisis, and ongoing impacts on the community, such as financial inequity, food deserts, and inadequate healthcare.

Benitez, a member of Groundwork Hudson Valley’s Climate Safe Yonkers Task Force, connects redlining and the climate crisis, demonstrating that redlined neighborhoods experience extreme heat disproportionately. Through portraits and scenes of urban life, Benitez vividly portrays the experience of extreme temperatures, lack of access to green spaces, and inadequate healthcare, revealing the forms of "slow violence" caused by the climate crisis in her community.

But It's Ours marks a significant chapter in Benitez's artistic journey, reflecting her personal resilience and commitment to storytelling. Raised in the housing projects of Yonkers, she overcame adversity, including involvement in the drug trade, to become a transformative force in contemporary art. Her paintings, stemming from her photographic practice, explore themes of injustice, joy, and healing, capturing the pride and resilience of her community.

The exhibit will be on display from March 5 to April 10, 2024, in two locations: the Sarah Lawrence College Barbara Walters Gallery at the Barbara Walters Campus Center (BWCC) and CURB. 

“But It's Ours” is curated by SLC student Nina Serrano


Exhibition Details:

  • Barbara Walters Gallery Hours: Weekdays 10 a.m. - 4 p.m., Weekends 1 p.m. - 4 p.m.
  • CURB Hours: Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays noon to 3 p.m., Tuesday evenings 5 p.m. - 7 p.m.


From the artist: 

"As a Yonkers native, I feel it’s my duty and honor to constantly be visible in my community, doing the work and spreading my art. When I think about growing up in a redlined neighborhood, it makes me realize how much access we never had. Lacking simple but necessary resources to make it out just seemed normal. The more art I create around redlining, the more I feel the responsibility to educate my community and others on what redlining is and how it has affected Black & Brown communities. I look forward to seeing and engaging with the community."


This exhibit is a collaboration Between Groundwork Hudson Valley, The Center for the Urban River at Beczak, Bronx Community College, and Sarah Lawrence College.