With such lovely spring weather, there’s no better time to go out and see art in New York City. Our list of recommendations this month includes shows that will please your eyes, move your soul, and awaken your mind. It includes artists Wendy Red Star, Bob Thompson, Daniel Lind-Ramos, Ken Tisa, and more. We also listed a few MFA thesis shows around the city that you might want to check out. There’s only one question left to resolve: jacket or no jacket?

Bodies We Inhabit and Doctrine of Signatures

From left to right: Sue Wrbican, “Ship Split #1” (2019), archival pigment print on Moab paper, 30 x 27 inches; Noël Kassewitz, “The Abduction of Europa, After Coypel” (2019), acrylic on canvas, pool float, inflatable doll, expanding marine foam, found buoy and tag, brass tacks, photo documentation, 36 x 60 x 14 inches (photo by Vincent Wong-Crocitto, courtesy NARS Foundation)

Two current exhibitions are worth seeing at the NARS Foundation in Brooklyn: Bodies We Inhabit, curated by Jessica Duby, brings together 10 women and nonbinary artists who reflect on our relationship with the earth and the harm we’re doing to it (though we’re really only harming ourselves). The other, a solo exhibition by NARS resident artist Nicki Cherry, is a personal meditation on chronic pain, mitigated best by the healing power and beauty of the natural world.  —Hakim Bishara

NARS Foundation (narsfoundation.org/2023-exhibitions/bodies-we-inhabit & narsfoundation.org/2023-exhibitions/doctrine-of-signature-nicki-cherry)
201 46th Street, 4th Floor, Sunset Park, Brooklyn
Through May 17

Wendy Red Star: Our Side

Wendy Red Star, “Set A: dúusshile (elk tooth dress)” (2023), archival pigment print on Satin Photo Rag, 20 1/2 x 16 inches, edition 1 of 3 (image courtesy the artist and Sargent’s Daughters)

What do you do when you encounter items from your cultural heritage in museum collections and archives built by your oppressors? Apsáalooke (Crow) artist Wendy Red Star’s answer to this question is to create her own personal archive of these objects in the form of annotated photographic collages that sing of beauty, longing, loss, and perseverance. That’s what you’ll see in this exhibition alongside larger, wordless collages atop fabrics traditionally used for Apsáalooke regalia. —HB

Sargent’s Daughters (sargentsdaughters.com)
179 East Broadway, Lower East Side, Manhattan
Through May 20

Ken Tisa: Dream Maps

Ken Tisa, “Sea of Seas” (2020–2023), glass and plastic beads, mother of pearl buttons on textile mounted on canvas, 67 x 55 inches (image used with permission from Kate Werble Gallery)

I was not expecting to fall in love with Ken Tisa’s embellished textile works, composed of hundreds upon hundreds of beads, buttons, and sequins meticulously sewn on vintage fabrics. But the New York artist’s zany and eccentric tapestries quickly won me over with their humor, strange beauty, and embrace of visual traditions as disparate as Haitian Vodou flags and flea-market kitsch. It’s the first time new textile works by Tisa are being exhibited since the late 1980s. —Valentina Di Liscia

Kate Werble Gallery (katewerblegallery.com)
474 Broadway, Third Floor, Soho, Manhattan
Through May 26

Matt Bollinger: Station

Matt Bollinger, “Gleaner” (2022), flashe and acrylic on canvas, 24 x 20 inches (photo by Dario Lasagni, courtesy the artist and François Ghebaly Gallery)

This is a simple little show in a modest little space about simple, modest people on the margins of the so-called American Dream. The figures depicted are working-class White people living their lives, performing their manual jobs, and finding moments of respite and communion. A shadowy figure holding a plastic shopping bag with a smiley emoji caught my attention in the background of one of the paintings. Look for it when you visit the show, and read critic John Yau’s full review on Hyperallergic here. —HB

François Ghebaly Gallery (ghebaly.com)
391 Grand Street, Chinatown, Manhattan
Through May 27

Kyle Goen: Let Art Be Training in the Practice of Freedom

Installation view of Kyle Goen’s Let Art Be Training in the Practice of Freedom at the Empty Circle (photo Hrag Vartanian/Hyperallergic)

Kyle Goen’s Training in the Practice of Freedom is a breath of fresh air. Goen is uninterested in the art market — like so many cutting-edge artists nowadays — and has collected together a wide array of work from his decade or so helping social movements create graphic materials that speak loudly to a large audience. His style is most often connected with the Decolonize This Place movement that was born here in New York City, but the language has been disseminated far and wide, helping in turn to influence other movements. This lovely little exhibition allows you not only to see the graphic work and read the related publications (which he ALSO designed), but to go through and listen to his record collection, as well. Highly recommended. —Hrag Vartanian

The Empty Circle (theemptycircle.com)
499 Third Avenue, Park Slope, Brooklyn
Through May 27

Tali Keren: Un-Charting

Tali Keren, Un-Charting (2021–2023), 3D animation, duration: 17 minutes (photo by Clair Gatto) 

For years, Israeli artist Tali Keren has been investigating the destructive political alliance between the American fundamentalist Christian right and her country’s Zionist leaderships. It’s an unlikely marriage between parties who hold diametrically opposed beliefs as to who will get the upper hand on Judgment Day. Through video work and public programming that includes talks and performances, this exhibition distills the ideological poison that messianic fanatics dump into the holy land. —HB

The James Gallery at the Graduate Center, City University of New York (centerforthehumanities.org)
365 Fifth Avenue, First Floor, Midtown, Manhattan
Through June 4

Bob Thompson: So let us all be citizens

Bob Thompson, “An Allegory” (1964) (© Michael Rosenfeld Gallery LLC, New York, NY)

Lost too early at age 28 in 1966, Bob Thompson stood out as one of the most daring artists of his time. While most of his New York peers were stranded deep in the cult of abstraction, he developed a different figurative style influenced by jazz wherein humans, animals, and phantoms mingle about in intensely vivid colors. Though his short-lived career lasted less than a decade, it left an indelible mark on American art history. This show will provide a chance to celebrate his peerless legacy and mourn the void left in his absence. —HB

52 Walker (52walker.com)
52 Walker Street, Tribeca, Manhattan
Through July 8

Arctic Highways

Meryl McMaster, “What Will I Say to the Sky and the Earth II” (2019), print on aluminum, 47 1/4 x 31 1/2 inches (image courtesy the collection of the artist)

Twelve Native artists from Alaska, Canada, and Sápmi, the original name for the region spanning Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Russia, present artworks and duodji — traditional Sámi crafts — in this exhibition. Artist Meryl McMaster, who is of Nêhiyaw (Plains Cree) and British and Dutch heritage, took the self-portrait on view during her travels across ancestral sites in Canada to deepen her connections to her heritage. In “What Will I Say to the Sky and the Earth II” (2019), she wears a gauzy white gown printed with red mayflies in a seemingly vast snowy expanse; the image appears to stretch endlessly beyond the frame, challenging notions of borders and borderlessness. —VD

Scandinavia House (scandinaviahouse.org)
58 Park Avenue, Midtown, Manhattan
Through July 22

Misha Japanwala: Beghairati Ki Nishaani: Traces of Shamelessness

Misha Japanwala “Artifact SS0” (2022), resin and patinated copper metal coating, 10 1/2 x 14 1/2 x 3 1/2 inches (photo Hakim Bishara/Hyperallergic)

One of the most effective tools of social control is the oppressive institution of shame. Karachi-born artist Misha Japanwala rebels against this apparatus by presenting copper casts of the bodies of queer, trans, and femme Pakistani individuals who responded to an open call. Together, they declare themselves proudly and unapologetically “shameless.” —HB

Hannah Traore Gallery (hannahtraoregallery.com)
150 Orchard Street, Lower East Side, Manhattan
Through July 30

Daniel Lind-Ramos: El Viejo Griot: Una historia de todos nosotros

Daniel Lind-Ramos, “María de los Sustentos (Mary of Nourishment)” (2021) (photo by Steven Paneccasio)

The title of this exhibition makes reference to el viejo griot, an elder figure in the colorful annual festival dedicated to the patron saint of Loíza, Daniel Lind-Ramos’s hometown in Puerto Rico. Griots are West African troubadours who preserve history through narration, and like these storytellers, Lind-Ramos leads us through the past and the present with his majestic assemblages made of found objects, often using scraps culled from the streets in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. In the artist’s expert hands, they are completely transformed. —VD

MoMA PS1 (momaps1.org)
22-25 Jackson Avenue, Long Island City, Queens
Through September 4

MFA Thesis Shows On View:

More Recommendations From Our Spring 2023 New York Art Guide:

Hakim Bishara is a Senior Editor at Hyperallergic. He is also a co-director at Soloway Gallery, an artist-run space in Brooklyn. Bishara is a recipient of the 2019 Andy Warhol Foundation and Creative Capital...

Valentina Di Liscia is the News Editor at Hyperallergic. Originally from Argentina, she studied at the University of Chicago and is currently working on her MA at Hunter College, where she received the...

Hrag Vartanian is editor-in-chief and co-founder of Hyperallergic.