Summertime is here at last, and while this may be one of the hottest years on record — following last year and the year before that — New York’s arts organizations are maintaining their cool. This month’s highlights include colossal sculptures along the East River, spectral ceramics in a South Brooklyn cemetery, and an archive of the city’s radical undercurrents. Here are our top recommendations for June.
When: through July 3
Where: Green-Wood Cemetery Catacombs (500 25th Street, South Slope, Brooklyn)
Green-Wood Cemetery’s first artist-in-residence told the New Yorker in 2020 that her new installation took inspiration from Han dynasty burial ceremonies practiced by her own family. Collaborating with local Chinese funeral homes, she created clay and chainmail works that resemble the jade robes worn during Taoist rituals. Manifesting from the ceiling and floor of the dark, cool catacombs, Lau’s sculptures are sublime and otherworldly.
When: through July 30
Where: Cuchifritos Gallery + Project Space (88 Essex Street, Lower East Side, Manhattan)
With reproductive rights in jeopardy, Ani Liu’s postpartum installations — made with breast milk, formula, diapers, pumps, toys, and artificial intelligence — draw attention to the materiality of child rearing in a highly privatized and automated public sphere. Located on the bottom floor of Essex Market, Ecologies of Care translates the artist’s own motherly love into a broader rumination on the undervalued labor of parenting.
When: through August 21
Where: Interference Archive (314 7th Street, Park Slope, Brooklyn)
Interference Archive is exploring how New Yorkers have historically achieved and defended public ownership over city spaces. The Brooklyn gallery’s latest exhibition collects archival materials from networks of care and solidarity across the boroughs, many of which grew from conversations between neighbors and coworkers. Our Streets! Our City! details the radical origins of community gardens, food banks, and public housing initiatives as a critique of the city government’s top-down planning strategies.
When: through November 27
Where: Brooklyn Bridge Park (334 Furman Street, Dumbo, Brooklyn)
Public Art Fund’s new group exhibition beside the Brooklyn Bridge addresses how one waterway connects all of Africa with New York City. Black Atlantic brings together site-specific installations by diaspora artists such as Leilah Babirye, Hugh Hayden, Dozie Kanu, Tau Lewis, and Kiyan Williams. Located directly across from the original Wall Street slave market, the towering works stand as monuments to Black self-determination and challenge Brooklynites to engage with their own history.
When: through June 19
Where: 56 Henry (105 Henry Street, Lower East Side, Manhattan)
LaKela Brown’s latest exhibition at 56 Henry focuses on the concept of “second growth,” or what blooms from an unnaturally cleared landscape. All-white sculptures and plastic reliefs take the form of still lifes, portraying African heritage vegetables like okra and corn. These compact works appear to blend in with the gallery walls, hearkening to the kinds of evasion during and after slavery — itself a mass uprooting event — that ensured cultural and spiritual self-preservation.
When: June 4–September 11
Where: New York Botanical Garden (2900 Southern Boulevard, The Bronx)
Food justice is at the center of recent discussions on global supply shortages. As such, the New York Botanical Garden is exploring the diasporic origins of common household foods through planting and cooking traditions that date back millennia. Botanical studies from within the Bronx gardens are paired with a series of tables painted by local artists such as André Trenier and tapestries of farmworkers by Colombian artist Lina Puerta, connecting our favorite cuisine with the people who make them possible.
When: through July 9
Where: Yi Gallery (254 36th Street, Sunset Park, Brooklyn)
Sunset Park is much more than a tragic news headline, and Kate Casanova’s whimsical sculpture exhibition is a reminder of its bright spots. Colorful, nebulous molds of paper clay and gypsum twist themselves into knots alongside dangling tapestries of hand-dyed fabric. Much like ancient Greek perceptions of the four humors, these pseudo-anatomical works radiate orange and pink hues, referencing the essential organs that guide our sense of judgment.
When: June 9–August 25
Where: Korea Society (350 Madison Avenue, Midtown East, Manhattan)
Heeseop Yoon works best under pressure, often creating her highly detailed and mesmerizing wall murals in one fell swoop. Her new exhibition, Agglomeration, finds her commanding an entire gallery of Korea Society with monochromatic still life drawings that incorporate architectural elements of major American cities. These vast, multidimensional works stretch across the ceiling, walls, and floors, capturing the anxious entropy of the urban sprawl.
When: through June 25
Where: Jeffrey Deitch, New York (18 Wooster Street, Soho, Manhattan)
Based on a Genny Lim poem, Wonder Women seeks to discover commonalities among women and nonbinary artists of the Asian diaspora. Compiling figurative works by 30 artists, including Chitra Ganesh, Melissa Joseph, and Maia Cruz Palileo, curator Kathy Huang draws from history, fiction, and personal experience to foster this dialogue amid an epidemic of anti-Asian violence. Many of the artists collaborate across different American cities, making Wonder Women an expression of their solidarity.
When: through June 26
Where: A.I.R. Gallery (155 Plymouth Street, Dumbo, Brooklyn)
Dumbo’s A.I.R. Gallery recently premiered three new solo exhibitions focused on language, memory, and intergenerational trauma. Yvette Drury Dubinsky and Zazu Swistel create mixed media centered around isolation and political unrest in the COVID-19 era. Meanwhile, for her first New York exhibition, Maya Jeffereis examines orientalist fantasies of 19th-century European women through an experimental video installation, questioning the connections between patriarchy and racialized exoticism.
When: through June 16
Where: Tanya Bonakdar Gallery (521 West 21st Street, Chelsea, Manhattan)
For more than four decades, Ernesto Neto has created immersive, socially attuned installations influenced by midcentury Brazilian vanguardists such as Hélio Oiticica and the concept of biomorphism, in which architectural design resembles organic life forms. Colorful carpets, crocheted sculptures, and live plants adorn multiple floors of the Chelsea gallery like an entire ecosystem, or just a cell under a microscope. The artist encourages viewers to take off their shoes and stay a while, and perhaps meditate on our place in the universe.
When: June 2–5
Where: Knockdown Center (52-19 Flushing Avenue, Maspeth, Queens)
This year’s Other Art Fair continues to offer an alternative to the ubiquitous commercial fairs, many of which overtook Manhattan in the last two months. Its first iteration at Knockdown Center in Queens will be ditching white-walled gallery spaces and VIP ropes to reflect New York’s greater population, with more than 130 independent artists working to break the industry’s barriers to entry.