Changing Spaces
Changing Spaces. Courtesy of Tishman Speyer.

This August be sure to check out some of New York City’s best new public art installations complete with interactive elements and intricate designs. Some of the topics explored in these installations include the death of loved ones and the prevalence of gender-based violence in American society. Head to Rockefeller Center to be mesmerized by Jeppe Hein’s water installation Changing Spaces or Cherry Tree Park to view a crocheted mural of Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. Keep reading to learn all about the 8 best art installations to view in New York City this month. 

1. Seeds (13 Moons) at Thomas Paine Park

Seeds (13 Moons)
Seeds (13 Moons). Courtesy of Jaime Miranda-Bambarén.

This summer and fall, Thomas Paine Park will host artist Jaime Miranda-Bambarén’s sculpture installation Seeds (13 Moons). Situated in front of courthouses and the Jacob Javits Federal Building are 13 wooden seed sculptures. Interactive in nature, the sculptures invite their viewers to explore their unique crevices with every part of their body.

Miranda-Bambarén drew direct inspiration from his experiences traveling across Peru to gather materials for his sculptures. Each sculpture in the series was crafted utilizing a single piece of wood harvested by the artist himself from Eucalyptus tree stumps grown within the Peruvian highlands and jungle. Eucalyptus trees were specifically chosen due to their high resistance to weather conditions and their cracks and fissures which beautifully mark the passage of time. By transforming the trees’ wood — which simultaneously reflects the viceregal times they were planted in and their modern-day razing — into seed sculptures, Miranda-Bambarén breathes new life into fields of sown death. Seeds (13 Moons) can be viewed through November 1, 2022. 

2. Changing Spaces at Rockefeller Center

Changing Spaces
Changing Spaces. Courtesy of Tishman Speyer.

Through September 9, visitors to Rockefeller Center can experience visual artist Jeppe Hein’s interactive public art installation Changing Spaces. Based in Berlin and Copenhagen, Hein creates sculptures and installations that incorporate humous elements with 1970s traditions of minimalism and conceptual art. Through his art, Hein seeks to engage his viewers, most often through works that bridge the gap between art, architecture, and technology. Over the years, his work has been showcased at the Center Pompidou, the Saatchi Gallery, and the Museum of Contemporary Art. 

Described by Hein as a social sculpture and “liquid architecture,” Changing Spaces inspires direct interaction with the artwork and its local surroundings. The sculpture features four circles with enclosing circles of water shooting up from the ground. Rising and falling in random intervals, the water walls also merge with one another creating spaces for viewers to move within that are continually changing shape and appearance. Engaging for children and adults alike, Changing Spaces brings an amusing activity to one of New York City’s most historic and quintessential destinations. 

3. Raised_The Floating Playground at Owl’s Head Park

Raised_The Floating Playground, Public art installation
Raised_The Floating Playground. Courtesy of Eirini Linardaki.

Located at Owl’s Head Park is Eirini Linardaki’s faux-marble sculpture, Raised_The Floating Playground. Through her art, Linardaki brings memories of her childhood to life, creating works that represent lived experiences and feelings that are both unique to her own life and universal in nature as a means of addressing the human condition. Splitting her life between the Grecian island Crete and the New York island Manhattan, Lindarki uses rafts as a metaphorical vehicle to encourage viewers to find new meaning in their everyday lives while also remaining true to their roots. 

Created in collaboration with the Hellenic Republic, Ministry of Culture and Sports, The Red Sand Project, and SHIM Art Network, Raised_The Floating Playground reflects on migration by sea over the last century and the inherent nomadic disposition of humanity. The sculpture draws inspiration from Owl Head Park’s position overseeing the New York Bay with its design featuring an assemblage of ambiguous objects ranging from handmade rafts to playground toys. Raised_The Floating Playground can be viewed through April 15, 2023.

4. Wall of Silence at Collect Pond Park

Wall of Silence, Public art installation
Wall of Silence. Photo by Mark Peterson.

Photographer Donna Ferrato, alongside steel fabricator Amanda Willshire and architect Margie Soo Lee, created the sculpture Wall of Silence as a platform to bring awareness to the realities of gender-based violence while simultaneously encouraging viewers to reflect on how they can stand up for individuals who are criminalized for defending themselves against their abusers. The sculpture is strategically situated inside Collect Pond Park, located south of Canal Street between the New York County Family Court and the Criminal Court Building. In having placed the sculpture here, the artists prompt viewers to consider which individuals American institutions were built to protect and who they continue to serve to this day. 

Collect Pond Park also encapsulates the feminine spirit in its location: it is nestled among streets where early suffragettes, such as Sojourner Truth, once strolled. Given this characteristic of the public art installation, Wall of Silence can also be viewed as a symbol of the power women and gender-nonconforming people have in mobilizing to enact change within systems of oppression. The art installation was made possible by the support and collaboration of the NYC Mayor’s Office to End Domestic and Gender-Based Violence. Wall of Silence will be on display through November 20, 2023. 

5. Wanderlust at 215 West 38th Street

Wanderlust. Courtesy of Norah Swartz.

For the month of August, the Garment District Alliance will present Wanderlust, a public art exhibition featuring 18 mixed-media works created by Philadelphia-based high school student Norah Swartz. A rising senior at Springfield Township High School, Swartz specializes in mixed-media and 3D compositions including ceramics, sculpture, and glasswork. Her art has been previously exhibited at the Wharton Esherick print show.

Over the course of her junior year, Swartz created the pieces featured in Wanderlust, utilizing various mediums and materials such as glass, ink, glaze, and watercolor. At its core, Wanderlust represents the courage it takes to continue persevering in spite of life’s many hardships. Wanderlust also aims to show its viewers how positive influence from the right group of individuals can have the power to give people the support they need to pursue their dreams. The exhibition can be viewed in a street-level window at 215 West 38th Street until September 2, 2022. 

6. Crochet mural of Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor at Cherry Tree Park

Public art installation of Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor
Crochet mural of Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. Courtesy of Carmen Paulino.

Hanging along the fence inside Cherry Tree Park is a crochet mural of Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who on August 8, 2009, became the first Hispanic woman to serve in the position. Before ascending to the Supreme Court, Sotomayor also became the first Hispanic federal judge in New York State and the first Puerto Rican woman to serve as a judge in a U.S. federal court. As a tribute to Sotomayor’s historic legacy, artist Carmen Paulino created a crochet mural in her likeness.

The crochet mural is composed of crocheted contributions from over 100 artists from around the world ranging in age from 9 to 91 years old. In combining the efforts of so many people, the project represents the linking of distant communities together one stitch at a time. Besides Sotomayor’s mural, Paulino also creates crocheted artwork as the Hospital-Artist-In-Residence for The Creative Center, a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing the creative arts to people of all ages with cancer and other chronic illnesses. The crochet mural can be viewed until April 11, 2023.

7. Leaf, Boats, and Reflection at MacDonald Park

Public art installation Leaf. Boats, and Reflection
Leaf, Boats, and Reflection. Courtesy of Yvonne Shortt.

Until June 17, 2023, MacDonald Park will host Leaf, Boats, and Reflection, a public sculpture created in remembrance of those who have lost loved ones to COVID-related deaths. To create the sculpture, artist Yvonne Shortt, known for other public artworks such as Pavillion Landing and Rigged?, worked in collaboration with artists Mayuko Fujino and Joel Esquite.

Leaf, Boats, and Reflection’s pond is made from a mirrored acrylic pane that reflects the sky above and the individuals looking down to examine its contents. Situated inside the pond is the sculpture of a woman’s head, looking up to the sky with her eyes closed in silent contemplation and prayer. Surrounding the head are various white boats holding candles, serving as a vigil for the dead. Stories collected from the local community by RPGA Studios inspired the ceramic relief tiles attached to the concrete border of the sculpture’s reflection pond. Overall, Leaf, Boats, and Reflection serves as a space for community members to place flowers and silent notes in the hopes of reaching out to lost loved ones.

8. Faces of Harlem at Morningside Park

Faces of Harlem
“Holy The Harlem Faces” by Nuria Mendoza, a series of photos of Harlem resident Jilien featured in Faces of Harlem. Installation photo by Sade Boyew El.

Faces of Harlem, a public art and photography-focused non-profit founded by Sade Boyewa El, is presenting the second edition of its outdoor photography exhibition of the same name in Morningside Park. Co-curated by Sade Boyewa El and Heryte Tefery Tequame, the installation showcases work by ten contemporary photographers; Khalik Allah, Sade Boyewa El, Jessica Dunston, CJ Hart, Nuria Mendoza, Ashley Peña, Fela Raymond, Xavier Scott Marshall, Nolan Trowe, Joshua Woods and three youth photographers.

By documenting Harlemites in their intimate spaces, the exhibited photographs give viewers a deeper look into family life, creativity, faith, relationships, and love within the Harlem community. Faces of Harlem will be on view until November 30, 2022.

Next, check out 16 New Public Art Installations In NYC in July 2022!