Fall Arts Preview 2022: Museum Shows You Won’t Want to Miss

New York City is the heart-center of U.S. museums, so naturally new exhibitions each fall are exciting. Here are our picks for 2022.

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New York’s summer heat still hangs over the city— but fall is fast approaching. As we move into the middle of September the stickiness subdues, temperature drops to a comfortable cool, and tree-lined blocks turn a warm autumn. Museums are also making changes this season; new exhibitions will feature prolific artists whose work and subjects have shaped U.S. culture. Here are seven new NYC exhibitions that are a ‘must-see’ this fall. 

Really Free: The Radical Art of Nellie Mae Rowe

  • Brooklyn Museum | September 2 to January 1 2023

Nellie Mae Rowe explores playfulness, girlhood, and spirituality through her works in “Really Free”— the first NYC exhibit dedicated to Rowe in over 20 years. Born in the start of the 20th century in Georgia, Rowe spent her early years working the family farm and married young. The decades of her time as a domestic laborer made it hard for her to create art; after her second husband and employers died in the 1960s, she chose to devote her remaining years exploring her artistic talents. The showcase features her self-expression as a Black southern woman and artist through drawings, sculpture, and a rendition of her “Playhouse” environment. 

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Nellie Mae Rowe (American, 1900–1982). What It Is, 1978–82. Crayon, colored pencil, pencil on paper, 21 × 21 1/4 in. (53.3 × 54 cm). High Museum of Art, gift of Judith Alexander, 2003.215. © 2022 Estate of Nellie Mae Rowe/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. (Photo: © High Museum of Art, Atlanta) (Photo: © High Museum of Art, Atlanta)

Hear Me Now: The Black Potters of Old Edgefield, South Carolina

  • The Met Fifth Avenue | September 9 to February 5 2023

Explore African American studies through the 19th century utilitarian wares of Old Edgefield District, South Carolina. The exhibit features works made by Edgefield artists including Theaster Gates, Adebunmi Gbadebo, Simone Leigh, Woody De Othello, and Robert Pruitt. Featuring around 50 ceramic items, including large vessels created by poet David Drake and the enslaved people of the region. The earthenware objects showcase the material expertise, artistry, and stories of the enslaved who created them. The work translates their lived experiences of America's inhumane period of slavery, and is the first pottery exhibition on this subject matter to display in the Northeast. 

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Dave (or David Drake), storage jar, 1857. Stoneware with alkaline glaze. Harriet Otis Cruft Fund and Otis Norcross Fund / The Met

Queer Maximalism x Machine Dazzle

  • Museum of Arts and Design | September 10 to Feburary 19 2023

In an amalgamation of environments, photographs, video, material works, and drag performances, Machine Dazzle (artist Matthew Flower) brings queer maximalism to the MAD Museum. The multimedia exhibition covers two floors, exploding in color, texture, movement, and scale. He details his transformation as a Flower; once concealing his queer identity in Pennslyvania’s suburbs, Machine Dazzle later discovers himself as a queer experimental theatre icon. It is the first public installation featuring over two dozen masterpiece clothing designs, produced for both himself and collaborator Taylor Mac— worn in Pulitzer finalist Drama Taylor Mac’s A 24-Decade History of Popular Music back in 2016. Experience Machine Dazzle’s queer liberation through his fantastical drag and burlesque pieces.

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Costumes created by Machine Dazzle for his performance Heliotropisms staged within artist Natasha Bowdoin’s immersive installation Sideways to the Sun (2019). Jenna Bascom Photography LLC 2022

Young Lords and Their Traces: Theaster Gates

  • New Museum | November 10 to February 5, 2023

Theaster Gates celebrates the minds of those who have influenced his home city of Chicago and broader U.S. culture through his selection of works. His paintings, videos, performances, and videos recognize greatness of both everyday people and celebrated icons. The collection seeks to elevate more humble sources of understanding which resonate with both the local and global. He demonstrates his own depth of art and collective consciousness through the curated objects, sounds, visuals, and movements seen in his pieces. 

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Theaster Gates, A Clay Sermon. Image Courtesy of New Museum.

Edward Hopper's New York

  • The Whitney | October 19 to March 5, 2023

Edward Hopper is one of New York City’s most iconic impressionists during its time of urban development. For nearly 60 years he depicted the city’s skyline, train system, and construction sites in the burgeoning era of expansion. “Edward Hopper’s New York” details the city through his pictures— sketches, prints, paintings, and illustrations that evoke plain depictions of the urban experience. The exhibition draws upon Hopper’s well and lesser-known pieces, offering a fresh perspective on his personal presence and New York City as a main character. 

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Edward Hopper, Manhattan Bridge, 1925–26. Courtesy of the Whitney

Swagger and Tenderness: The South Bronx Portraits

  • Bronx Museum of the Arts | October 26 to April 30, 2023

Local Bronx artists John Ahearn and Rigoberto Torres have showcased their Bronx sculptures for decades. In “Swagger and Tenderness”, the Bronx Museum features over 60 of their portraits and archival pieces since 1979. This will be the first time the public can view the artists’ personal collections, including rare Polaroids of the South Bronx natives depicted in their sculptural work. Together, these curated artworks pay homage to the power and beauty of the Bronx. This being the same community that fostered the artistic talents of both Ahearn and Torres. The exhibition includes poetry, curatorial essays, and interviews with the portrait subjects from the Bronx, evoking overarching themes of social justice, equity, diversity, and respect. 

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John Ahearn and Rigoberto Torres, Life on Dawson Street, 1982-1983. Courtesy of Bronx Museum

Developing Stories: Native Photographers in the Field

  • National Museum of the American Indian | November 3 to March 12, 2023

Photographers Donovan Quintero, Tailyr Irvine, and Russel Albert Daniels collaborate in a series of photo essays to challenge Native American stereotypes, portraying the real intricacies and diversities of contemporary Native lives. Each photojournalist delves into the lives of specific Native communities that hold a deep level of personal interest to them. Quintero explores how the Navajo Nation has been impacted by COVID-19. Irvine interviews the Indigenous people of Missoula and the Flathead Reservation in “Reservation Mathematics”— examining the challenges posed by the U.S. government’s forced blood quantum system. Daniels photographs the Genízaro people of New Mexico, capturing their culture which has been historically impacted by violence. The three photo essays create nuance that has been largely absent from mainstream depictions. 

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Russel Albert Daniels, Procession for the Feast Day of Santo Tomás, 2019. National Museum of the American Indian |

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