Purple glowing cubes float above the lobby of Brookfield Place in a winter public art installation.
Arts Brookfield

Though the city’s cool autumn weather is slowly moving into the frigid air of winter, there is still much public art to explore in the city. Art installations this November present a wide range of themes ranging from grief and the female experience to the formation of connections in a post-pandemic world. This month, head to Prospect Park to be enraptured by abstract wooden sculptures, or Lincoln Center to learn about the once-prosperous San Juan Hill neighborhood. Here are the best public art installations to see in November 2022.

1. The Need You Know It Is A Letting Light at Prospect Park

A pink, green, and blue mural covers the bandshell with wooden pillars on the stage.
Sarah E. Brook’s The Need You Know It Is A Letting Light. Photo by Sebastian Bach.

Located inside the Lena Horne Bandshell in Prospect Park is Sarah E. Brook’s multimedia installation The Need You Know It Is A Letting Light, an installation that began in mid-October. Presented by BRIC and the Prospect Park Alliance, The Need You Know It Is A Letting Light conveys the artist’s exploration of the communication between external and internal psychic space through three abstract wooden sculptures and an accompanying mural. Brook’s project marks the first time a sculpture will be presented alongside a mural at the bandshell. Colored red, yellow, and green in the spirit of the park’s natural landscape, the bright mural seeks to allure passersby from within the park into the bandshell. 

Alongside the mural, the repurposed wood sculptures, worn in nature with crooked nails and empty holes, appear as bodies supporting one another. Through the abstract designs of her sculptures in The Need You Know It Is A Letting Light, Brook demonstrates her commitment to creating spaces for queer, gender nonconforming, and trans individuals to experiment with embodied perceptions of themselves and what it means to be whole in the universe. Through contextualizing her work in sites of natural landscapes, Brooks experiments with the intertwined nature of the specific and intimate. The Need You Know It Is A Letting Light can be viewed through May 5, 2023. 

2. Canstruction at Brookfield Place

A red cube made out of bricks in a public art installation at Brookfield Place
Arts Brookfield

Canstruction® returns to Brookfield Place for the 30th year! This annual art competition, produced in partnership with City Harvest, challenges teams of architects, engineers, and contractors to build sculptures made entirely out of unopened cans of food. At the end of the installation, the sculptures are deconstructed and the cans are donated to City Harvest, resulting in the largest annual single donation of canned food to the organization.

The sculptures will be judged by an expert panel and winners will be crowned in the categories of Best Original Design, Best Use of Labels, Structural Ingenuity, Best Meal, and two honorable mentions. Visitors are encouraged to get involved by dropping off non-perishable cans of food on the 2nd floor of Brookfield Place (230 Vesey Street). You can also vote for your favorite sculpture to be awarded the People’s Choice award, here. Voting opens on November 3rd. This art installation will be on view for just a few weeks, from November 3rd through November 14th from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m daily.

3. Breathing Without Fear at Marcus Garvey Park

A brown ceramic sculpture of two intertwining figures at Marcus Garvey Park
Breathing Without Fear by Reuben Sinha. Photo by Cynthia Reed.

Many art installations you’ll see this November debuted in late October, including artist Reuben Sinha’s ceramic sculpture Breathing Without Fear in Marcus Garvey Park. In 2004, Sinha founded artHARLEM Inc., a community non-profit organization known for managing the Harlem Open Artist Studio Tour, to bring recognition to Harlem’s underrepresented artists. Throughout his artwork, Sinha draws from his immigrant identity and experiences living within racially marginalized New York City communities.

This emphasis on community can be seen in Breathing Without Fear which depicts two figures becoming one as they enjoy a local park in a post-pandemic world. Taking the structure of ancient rock formations, the sculpture can also be interpreted as two figures enjoying a moment of connection in the aftermath of a prolonged period of separation brought about by the pandemic. While abstract in nature, the sculpture’s figures are meant to represent everybody. Visitors to Marcus Garvey Park can find the sculpture on the oval lawn at Madison Avenue and 121st Street in East Harlem.

4. Midnight Moment at Times Square

A white, starlike kaleidoscopic rendering from Midnight Moments
Video still from MENDED by Zoë Buckman. Courtesy of Cultural Counsel.

Times Square Arts presents a new edition of its monthly art installation Midnight Moments this November. The next iteration of its features a series of kaleidoscopic imagery titled MENDED. Created by artist Zoë Buckman, MENDED was adapted from work originally created for Loss Tapes, a collaborative digital series in which Buckman explored grief, power, and the female experience.

MENDED expresses the duality of tenderness and strength through the juxtaposition of images of pink handsewn petals and chain links and vintage linens stitched into boxing gloves. In her construction of the video, Buckman took a feminist approach to her exploration of identity, trauma, grief, and empowerment, weaving together imagery and motifs ranging from domestic textiles to metal chains. From start to finish, the three-minute video swings from chaos to focused introspection mirroring the stages of grief. 

5. San Juan Heal at Lincoln Center

San Juan Heal at the Lincoln Center. Photo by Nicholas Knight. Courtesy of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, The Studio Museum in Harlem, and Public Art Fund.

Enlivening the nearly 200-foot-long facade of the Lincoln Center’s David Geffen Hall is San Juan Heal, a collection of designs that pay homage to the San Juan Hill neighborhood. The working-class neighborhood was home to the largest Black and Puerto Rican populations in New York City during the first half of the twentieth century. San Juan Hill’s residents were forcibly displaced to make way for redevelopment in the area which would eventually become the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. 

The constellation of words, shapes, and symbols that make up artist Nina Chanel’s piece depicts the former thriving community. Featured in the panels are figures such as the pioneering healthcare workers Edith Carter and Elizabeth Tyler. Other prominent figures placed into the spotlight include musician James P. Johnson, famous for inspiring the Charleston dance craze, and Thelonious Monk, a pioneer of Bebop. Commissioned by the Lincoln Center in collaboration with The Studio Museum in Harlem and the Public Art Fund, San Juan Heal will be on display until March 31, 2024.

6. Luminaries at Brookfield Place

Purple glowing cubes float above the lobby of Brookfield Place, one of NYC's annual art installations in November.
Arts Brookfield

Art installations in November start to take on a holiday tint as approach the season of giving. Starting on November 25th, you can send your wishes into the sky or conduct a symphony of color-changing lanterns inside the Winter Garden at Brookfield Place with the interactive public installation Luminaries. Luminaries is a glowing canopy made up of 640 twinkling custom lanterns that change in color and intensity, based on your motions during certain “Maestro” and “Holiday Wishing” sessions noted on the schedule. For every interaction, Brookfield Place will donate $1, up to $25,000, to Outreach, a charity that provides “evidence-based behavioral health services to youth and adults in NYC and on Long Island struggling with substance and alcohol abuse.”

When the installation isn’t in interactive mode it will still be mesmerizing. Throughout the installation’s run, November 25th through January 6th, you can watch special light shows set to your favorite holiday songs, like Winter Wonderland by Michael Bublé, Silver Bells by Tony Bennett, and Carol of the Bells by The Bird and The Bee.

7. New York Botanical Garden Holiday Train Show

2019 New York Botanical Garden Holiday Train Show Lower Manhattan, one of NYC's regular art installations for November

Continuing on with annual holiday art installations in November, a beloved tradition returns to the New York Botanical Garden, the Holiday Train Show! On November 19th, the train show will mark the start of its 31st year. The show features model trains that zip through a version of New York City made out of natural materials like birch bark, lotus pods, and cinnamon sticks. The fantastical display features replicas of more than 190 famous replicas of New York landmarks, from the Statue of Liberty to Coney Island’s Wonder Wheel.

The Holiday Train show will run from November 19, 2022, through January 16, 2023. Tickets for the show are on sale now. While you’re there, you can also check out NYBG Glow, an outdoor display of lights in the garden accompanied by artistic, music, and pop-up performances.

8. An Eclectic Dance to the Music of Time at Lincoln Center

A digital rendering of a multimedia exhibit inside David Geffen Hall, a new art installation in November.
Still from An Eclectic Dance to the Music of Time. Photo by Nicholas Knight. Courtesy of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, The Studio Museum in Harlem, and Public Art Fund.

Upon walking inside the Karen and Richard LeFrak Lobby at David Geffen Hall, visitors to Lincoln Center are greeted by Jacolby Satterwhite’s commission An Eclectic Dance to the Music of Time. Presented on the Hausen Digital Wall, An Eclectic Dance to the Music of Time combines archival images, live-action footage, and digital animation connecting a festival of performance that traverses historical periods through virtual space. 

Peppered throughout the video are the works of artists throughout the history of the Philharmonic since its founding in 1842. Also featured are young musicians and dancers from across New York City, playing instruments and dancing on stages. Grounded in a more democratic view of the city’s history, An Eclectic Dance to the Music of Time features sculptural monuments set behind landscapes inspired by Central Park, surrounded by buildings covered in screens as a reminder of Times Square. An Eclectic Dance to the Music of Time will be visible to the public until March 31, 2024.

Next, check out art installations still on view from October 2022!