Everyone knows September to be the month of art fairs, but the big Manhattan attractions are just a few of New York’s autumnal offerings. It isn’t quite winter yet, so you can still catch the tail end of an artist-made birdhouse show beside Prospect Park. All the same, a group exhibition of politically charged textiles along the Long Island Sound packs a punch in an area otherwise flooded with wealth. Our other highlights for this month include a sanctuary of African healing out on Governors Island, colorful deconstructions of gender and sexuality, and transmissions from a post-worker dystopia in Brooklyn.
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Gerardo Dexter Ciprian: Medicina de Amor
Dominican artist Dexter Ciprian’s new solo exhibition transforms deeply personal items into universal symbols of resilience. The artist breaks apart family-owned furniture pieces and reconstructs them as lanterns, bringing light to the island nation’s chronic blackouts. Likewise, he recalls the bricks of his childhood home in the Bronx through chunks of Jabón de cuaba, an all-purpose soap used throughout the diaspora. Named after a popular Dominican anthem, Medicina de Amor is a meditation on the home remedy, which becomes the first line of defense when no other support is in sight.
Bronx Museum of the Arts (bronxmuseum.org)
1040 Grand Concourse, The Bronx
Through September 4
If there is an ethical kind of “gender-critical,” Bushwick gallery Tiger Strikes Asteroid is nailing it. Three artists spanning South, Central, and North America — Ad Minoliti, KC Crow Maddux, and Madeline Jimenez Santil — deconstruct the social constructs of gender and sexuality, taking the uterus out of its traditional “female” context and presenting the binary as a soulless, outdated formula. In the exhibition essay, Nicolas Cuello laments how queer, nonconforming artists of color have long faced a “historical accumulation” of stigmatized discrediting despite marginal recognition in cultural institutions. Mis-Shapes is thus the antecedent, providing bodily and formal experimentations with space to breathe.
Tiger Strikes Asteroid (tigerstrikesasteroid.com)
1329 Willoughby Ave #2A, Bushwick, Brooklyn
Through September 11
Threading the Needle
The aesthetics of sewing unite this group show of living and deceased textile artists. The late poet Edel Adnan’s warmly hued tapestries portray her lifetime of longing, contrasted by the vigorous protest rugs of Philadelphia-based Tabitha Arnold and Mexican artist Margarita Cabrera’s cacti made of border patrol uniforms. Despite their different styles, a shared textural foundation hints at the medium’s gendered and often political history. Threading the Needle thus centers the labor of marginalization, and in turn the marginalization of labor.
The Church (thechurchsagharbor.org)
48 Madison Street, Sag Harbor, Long Island
Through September 18
Eros Rising: Visions of the Erotic in Latin American Art
The 10 artists in ISLAA’s Eros Rising ruminate on the unpredictable joys of being truly felt in one’s own skin, exchanging outward sexuality for colorful abstraction. Skin tones in Wynnie Mynerva’s sparse watercolors are reflected in Castiel Vitorino Brasileiro’s non-objective charcoal sketches, culminating in Oscar Bony’s photograph of two anonymous tongues forever on the verge of contact. Influenced by the pastels of Argentinian conceptualist David Lamelas, Eros Rising translates the simple act of touch into a revelation that can affirm one’s understanding of self and truth.
Institute for Studies on Latin American Art (islaa.org)
50 East 78th Street, Upper East Side, Manhattan
Through September 30
Unlisted: Underappreciated Women
Historian Michael Lobel recently noted the market-centric pitfalls of labeling artists as “forgotten.” Accordingly, Derfner Judaica’s Unlisted tells the stories of several Jewish modernists through the lens of patriarchal erasure. Expressionist portraits by Lithuanian artist Yuli Blumberg appear alongside abstracted wild horses by Romanian painter Magdalena Rădulescu and jagged non-representational pieces by Nadia Gould and Gertrude Perrin. Presented in-person and online, these colorful, challenging works expand our understanding of how war, faith, and immigration shaped mid-century artists, reinforcing that the “Ninth Street Women” were hardly alone.
Derfner Judaica Museum (derfneronline.org)
5901 Palisade Avenue, The Bronx
Through October 1
Pamela Phatsimo Sunstrum: I have withheld much more than I have written
Pamela Sunstrum has already lived many lives in the United States, Africa, and Southeast Asia. But as her latest exhibition title reveals, much of that experience has yet to be expressed. Thus, the individual painted canvases that comprise I have withheld — many of which are paired into diptychs or built into three-dimensional installations — together form a surreal tableau of placelessness. Sunstrum layers denim jeans, volcanic mountains, palm trees, and checkered tiles into visions of kaleidoscopic splendor, as if drawing from overflowing wells of memory. Perhaps, then, the artist is more prepared to speak than she lets on.
Galerie Lelong (galerielelong.com)
528 West 26th Street, Chelsea, Manhattan
September 8–October 22
For the Birds
The phrase “for the birds” often carries a dismissive connotation, yet the Brooklyn Botanic Garden means it literally. Dedicated to its diverse avian life, For the Birds scatters colorful artist-made birdhouses throughout the grounds, all designed and placed specifically to foster community. From a blue heron fishing platform to a crow’s nest of trash and a tiny communal sculpture garden, these makeshift maisons serve each species’ survival needs and bring a bit more color to the lush landscape.
Brooklyn Botanic Garden (bbg.org)
990 Washington Avenue, Crown Heights, Brooklyn
Through October 23
LaJuné McMillian: The Black Movement Library
LaJuné McMillian’s dynamic Black Movement Library series synthesizes the Black radical tradition and political unrest today. Using archives of motion-capture data collected from misrepresented Black performers and character base models, McMillian recreates their movements while wearing perception neuron motion-capture suits. Recordings from their many public workshops and performances with artists Roobi Gaskins, Renaldo Maurice, Ntu, Roukijah Rooks, and RaFia Santana show the Brooklyn Public Library’s entire facade illuminated as they dance to a crowd of onlookers. Drawing from archival footage of peoples’ movements around the world, McMillian’s work collapses the time between revolutions, warning us how quickly the inroads can be reversed.
46 Washington Avenue, Clinton Hill, Brooklyn
September 15–October 29
Elissa Blount-Moorhead and Bradford Young: Back and Song
On Governors Island, a two-person show examines the poetics of health in the African diaspora. Blount-Moorhead and Young collaborated on four-channel films and installations set within the dark, desolate Lower Gallery of the Arts Center, juxtaposing personal testimonies of doctors, morticians, and health aids with clips of meditations and ritual performances. Equally critical and cleansing, Back and Song rejects the dominating singularity of Western colonial medicine, rooting generations of Black healing in community and lived experience.
The Arts Center (lmcc.net)
Building 110 at Soissons Landing, Governors Island, Manhattan
Through October 30
Rodrigo Valenzuela: New Works for a Post-Workers’ World
Two photo series by Rodrigo Valenzuela, Afterwork and Weapons, imagine what may have happened if machinery actually made workers obsolete. For each shoot, he assembled elaborate, dystopian scenes out of old wood and scrap metal, concocting surreal yet familiar representations of what he calls a “post-workers’ world.” Drawing heavily from conceptual art and communist theory, Valenzuela depicts industrialism as a dehumanizing force that led capitalists to believe machinery would replace an imperfect and increasingly demanding laborer. Housed within a structure the artist built inside BRIC House, New Works for a Post-Workers’ World portrays a public sphere where the cause of labor is defeated, and it seems pretty terrifying.
BRIC House (bricartsmedia.org)
647 Fulton Street, Fort Greene, Brooklyn
September 22–December 23
Editor’s Note, 9/2/2022, 4:39pm EDT: An earlier version of this article misidentified KC Crow Maddux as Latinx. This has been corrected.