Fall has arrived in full force, bringing with it cooler temperatures ideal for heading outside and enjoying some of New York City’s best new public art installations. The artwork on display this month highlights the power artists have in inciting social change. Visitors to the 2022 Socrates Annual Sink or Swim: Climate Futures can learn more about the effects of climate change, while viewers of Todd Drake’s Peace Pole can find positive energy in the face of increasing global violence. This October, head to Murray Park to be dazzled by an abstract basketball court painting or Times Square to view Midnight Moment’s new film on the American Dream and the intersection of art and consumerism. Here are the best public art installations to see in October 2022.
1. Peace Pole at Stuyvesant Square Park
Inside the tranquility of Stuyvesant Square Park is the Peace Pole, a vertical white post etched on all sides with the inscription “May Peace Prevail on Earth” in different languages. Artist Todd Drake discovered the Peace Pole while quarantining at the Penington Friends House — a collaborative living home run by Quakers since 1987 — and set out to restore it as an act of hope that would allow “peace” to “prevail.” Drake’s sculpture builds off the enduring legacy of peace poles, which originated in Japan during the 1970s and have since grown to over 250,000 worldwide.
In the face of violence across the nation and abroad, Peace Pole seeks to impart positive energy to the lives of its viewers. “Peace, in our world, will begin with a single act,” Drake said when introducing his installation on Instagram. Peace Pole is jointly presented by Penington Friends House and the Stuyvesant Park Neighborhood Association and will be on view through March 2, 2023.
2. Middle Ghost at MoMA PS1 Public Plaza
Through April 17, 2023, Jumana Manna’s sculpture Middle Ghost will be on display inside the MoMA PS1 public plaza. Middle Ghost is part of Jumana Manna’s larger exhibition, Break, Take, Erase, Tally, the artist’s first major exhibition in the United States, which is on view at MoMA PS1. Manna drew inspiration from the form of the Khabya, a once-common structure for grain storage in rural homes across the Levant.
While the Khabyas and silos of Lebanon have slowly disappeared following the rise of colonial capital and modernity, Manna’s depiction in Middle Ghost presents these ruined structures in a whimsical and soothing manner. Traditional in nature, Manna’s interpretation of the Khabyas is playful, while staying true to what has persisted into the present.
3. Tales at Hunter’s Point South Park
At Hunter’s Point South Park is Tales, an artistic installation presented by Cikuska and Teatrino Giullare. The installation is a tribute people who tell stories that make the passage of time more bearable. Resting atop a sculpted bird’s nest are a series of face masks, visible even at night, to represent the thousands of characters who take flight and entertain others every day.
Tales is dedicated to the memory of the Italian poet and playwright Giuliano Scabia, who famously said that “It is with love that masks sometimes reappear, but as soon as they are recognized they take refuge in the shadows from which they came. They keep the nests of dreams warm.” Visitors to Hunter’s Point can view Tales until December 8, 2022.
4. 2022 Socrates Annual Sink or Swim: Climate Futures
Until March 12, 2023, Socrates Sculpture Park presents the 2022 Socrates Annual Sink or Swim: Climate Futures. The installation features five projects from Cheyenne Concepcion, Sean Desiree, Koyoltzintli, Randi Renate, and Daniel Shieh that center around the urgency of combating climate change. As ocean levels rise, leaving coastal cities underwater, the installation posits that sinking might be preferable to swimming. While the metaphor of sink or swim promotes individualism, defeating climate change requires collective action, the installation suggests through its paired installations. While one piece generates heat through the combination of sustainable building practices and recycled materials, another — pictured above — is inspired by the “anatomy and symbiotic existence of coral polyps.”
“Together these artists propose social adaptation and resilience, learning from the natural world, and reimagining of new and old technologies as necessary steps for living in our future global climate,” Jess Wilcox, Curator and Director of Exhibitions at Socrates Sculpture Park, said.
5. Neufs for Hawaii at Murray Park
In collaboration with Five-Star Basketball, the nonprofit Project Blackboard presents Edgar Heap of Birds’ largest-ever public art installation, Neufs for Hawaii. As a multidisciplinary artist, educator, and advocate for indigenous communities, Heap of Birds focuses on bringing awareness to the history, controversies, and land acknowledgments of Native Americans. Simultaneously, they depicting the personal freedom to express oneself while living within a tribal circle in their artwork.
Located at Murray Park, Neufs for Hawaii includes two newly renovated basketball courts featuring large-scale paintings along their playing surfaces. These paintings were enlarged from the Heap of Birds’ Neuf series, created in Oahu and named after the Cheyenne word for “four.” In this series, Heap of Birds celebrates the Cheyenne Nation by utilizing varying colors arranged in non-traditional and non-linear landscapes alongside fish swimming, and bodies moving across the canvas. Neufs for Hawaii seeks to underscore the importance of basketball in Native American culture beyond “rez ball” to showcase that Native hoopers play across the country. In addition, the paintings invite viewers to consider the implications of Neuf for Hawaii’s placement inside a public park built upon land that once belonged to Native Americans. For a limited time, there is also a temporary installation from the artist’s Native Hosts series on the court’s backboards. The installation will be up for viewing until August 22, 2023.
6. Midnight Moment at Times Square
Through the month of October, Times Square Arts presents the next edition of its Midnight Moment series titled American Girl. Artist Kilo Kish utilized her personal collection of vintage travel postcards to create American Girl, which features animated vignettes behind backdrops of classic American tourist stops such as a farmhouse and iconic bridges. American Girl fuses pop culture, camp, and fantasy into a three-minute video that centers the artist and its viewers within conventional notions of the American Dream. At the center of the video is Kish herself and a series of moving selfies adorned with costumes and props ranging from ice cream cones to feathered fans.
The film will be screened nightly from 11:57 p.m. to 12:00 a.m. until October 31. American Girl will also be accompanied by a live performance on October 14 from 11 p.m. to midnight from Kilo Kish, Ray Brady, Morgan Amirah Burns, and Urban World NYC. This performance will begin with spoken word from girls at Urban World NYC, which aims to turn young marginalized voices into leaders. Afterward, a three-part piece by Kish and music composer Ray Brady will be shown alongside a dance collaboration from Morgan Amirah Burns.
Next, check out The 5 Best Public Art Installations in NYC to See in September 2022!