Born in 2020 as a way to celebrate the strength and resiliency of New Yorkers during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Flag Project at Rockefeller Center replaced the flags surrounding the plaza with crowd-sourced art for the first time in the Center’s history. The 193 flagpoles normally fly the flags of the countries recognized by the United Nations. Now, Rockefeller Center is putting out an open call for artists to submit artwork that reflects this year’s theme “Only One Earth.”

The wildly popular first edition of the Flag Project received over a thousand submissions for the 193 spots available. The two past editions featured flags designed by famous artists and designers like Jeff Koons, Marina Abromovich, KAWS, Christian Siriano, Elliott Erwitt, Tyler Mitchell, and Ryan McGinley, though the project is certainly not limited to renowned artists. Indeed, artists from all walks of life are invited to submit their work for consideration via Rockefeller Center’s website.

The Flag Project display at Rockefeller center
Photo courtesy of Rockefeller Center

The Flag Project returned in 2021 and celebrated New York City through photography. It was presented in partnership with the non-profit Aperture Foundation and featured a lightbox exhibition with works by esteemed street photographer Jamel Shabazz in addition to the flags.

This year’s Flag Project will be presented by Tishman Speyer, the developer behind Rockefeller Center, in partnership with the Climate Museum and the United Nations Environment Programme. “Submit an original piece of art that shows us what the environment means to you, how you live sustainably and in harmony with nature, and the daily steps you take towards positive climate action,” the submission page states.

The winning designs will be created as eco-friendly, biodegradable flags that will fly from April 1st until May 6th and on June 5th in honor of World Environment Day. The flags will be a focal point of Rockefeller Center’s free public programming for Earth Day on April 22nd. Submissions are open until February 24th.

The Flag Project at Rockefeller Plaza

“We’re delighted to be partnering with UNEP and the Climate Museum to address the global threat of climate change this year with inspirational art by artists from around the world. The Flag Project has quickly become one of Rockefeller Center’s most beloved events. It’s an opportunity for artists of all ages, near and far, to share their visions for our one earth,” EB Kelly, Managing Director and Head of Rockefeller Center, said in a statement.

This year’s edition of the Flag Project coincides with Stockholm+50, an international environmental meeting that will be held in Stockholm on June 5th to discuss the UN’s Sustainable Development goals, including the Paris Agreement, the 2030 Agenda, and the post-2020 global Biodiversity Framework.

Next, read about 12 new public art installations opening in NYC this month!