Power of Trees: Signature summer exhibition to feature more than 50 tree species across the Garden

Six interactive outdoor artworks on view, along with gallery exhibitions, musical performances, and special tours & classes

May 25, 2023 Special from Brooklyn Botanic Garden
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WASHINGTON AVENUE — Brooklyn Botanic Garden (BBG) will present Power of Trees, a summer and fall program series centered on the ways trees serve as pillars of our natural and cultural worlds, from June 17 to Oct. 24, 2023. Anchored by an exhibition of six site-specific sculptures by emerging New York artists, Power of Trees will be experienced by visitors across the Garden through visual art, performances, and special events as well as simply by walking the grounds, where 52 of BBG’s most extraordinary trees will be highlighted through scientific, horticultural, and personal narratives.

“Trees are at the center of our natural communities. Throughout the world, and especially in dense urban areas, they’re essential to healthy and hospitable environments. Trees are extraordinary natural ‘machines’ that absorb pollution and give us oxygen. They make our neighborhoods beautiful and vibrant and inspire artists and writers of all ages. This is exactly why we need to protect trees from the same impacts of climate change and pollution they help safeguard us from,” said Adrian Benepe, president and CEO of Brooklyn Botanic Garden. “We hope visitors will better understand and appreciate trees through the art and science they encounter in the Garden this summer and fall and learn how to advocate for them on a local, national, and global scale.”

Cladrastis kentukea (Kentucky yellowwood). Photo by Blanca Begert.
Amanda Martinez.

The central art exhibition of Power of Trees, Branching Out: Trees as Community Hosts, features six site-specific sculptural works co-commissioned by BBG and AnkhLave Arts Alliance, inspired by the theme of trees as community hosts, and curated by Cecilia André. Participating artists are Sherwin Banfield, Amanda Martínez, Jasmine Murrell, Seema Lisa Pandya, Niceli Portugal, and Natsuki Takauji, all of whom are based in New York City. Branching Out is part of the AnkhLave Garden Project, an ongoing series of art exhibitions in public gardens featuring local BIPOC artists.

Sherwin Banfield.

Says Dario Mohr, founder and director of AnkhLave Arts Alliance: “AnkhLave is excited to be welcomed with open arms by Brooklyn Botanic Garden as we in turn welcome the public to engage with our fifth annual AnkhLave Garden Project Fellows’ public artworks for the Branching Out: Trees as Community Hosts exhibit. Each of their works speak to their family’s unique ancestral histories and their connections to Brooklyn and the broader NYC community through botanical themes and imagery.”

Niceli Portugal.

Power of Trees will highlight unexpected facts about specific tree species found in the Garden and that New Yorkers coexist with in Brooklyn and beyond. Highlighted species include the common horsechestnut, which produces spiky, nonedible fruit, and the giant sequoia, which has adapted to fire.

Natsuki Takauji.

Additional Power of Trees programming includes:

  • An artist-in-residency commission
  • An immersive Soundbath musical performance
  • Interactive indoor exhibitions
  • Special tours
  • Tree cultivation classes for adults
  • Programs for kids and families
  • Science demonstrations
  • Free workshops and events offering guidance on street tree care throughout the year
Seema Lisa Pandya.

Other horticultural displays around the Garden will be inspired by trees: The Annual Border’s plantings feature companion plants for trees; Trees of Little Caribbean, copresented with I AM CaribBEING, is on view in the Conservatory; and the Discovery Garden features exhibits, science demonstrations, a story walk, and a new field guide all about trees for kids and families to explore.

In the Conservatory Gallery, the Garden has partnered with the Nature Conservancy and the Climate Museum to present Witness Trees by Carolyn Monastra, a photography exhibition about the effects of climate change around the world, as well as an interactive exhibit that aims to inspire learning, dialogue, and action.

Science demonstrations—including tree dendrometers and a dissected tree display–encourage visitors to see trees like a scientist. And throughout the summer and fall, visitors can join free tours or enroll in classes, workshops, and community programs to learn more about trees at BBG and around Brooklyn.

Power of Trees will open on June 17, 2023, with a celebration for all ages. All Power of Trees programs are free with general admission unless otherwise noted as a ticketed event. For more information, visit bbg.org/PowerofTrees.

Fagus orientalis (oriental beech). Photo by Michael Stewart.

Select Exhibitions and Events

Power of Trees Opening Celebration

Saturday, June 17, 2023 | 10 a.m.–2 p.m.

Garden-wide | Free with Garden admission

Celebrate the opening of Power of Trees with Garden-wide special programs and performances. Be the first to see Branching Out, an exhibition of six site-specific works by local artists inspired by the theme of trees as community hosts, presented in partnership with AnkhLave Arts Alliance. Plus, get up close with birds that depend on trees, enjoy some poetry, and join a celebratory parade. And be sure to stop by our tree resource area to find tips on how to care for your local street trees.

Branching Out: Trees as Community Hosts

June 17–Oct. 24, 2023

Plant Family Collection | With AnkhLave Arts Alliance

Co-commissioned by BBG and AnkhLave Arts Alliance and curated by Cecelia André, Branching Out presents six site-specific works around the Garden inspired by the theme of trees as community hosts. The exhibition is part of the AnkhLave Garden Project, an ongoing series of art in public gardens featuring New York City-based BIPOC artists.

Power of Trees: Stories from BBG’s Collection

June 17–October 24, 2023

Garden-wide

Through a Garden-wide signage exhibition, discover scientific, horticultural, and personal stories about the amazing trees in the collection and the importance of trees in climate change mitigation.

Floresta: Soundbath with Angélica Negrón, Darian Donovan Thomas, and Raquel

Acevedo Klein

Monday, July 24, 2023 (Rain date: Tuesday, July 25) | doors open 7:30 p.m.

Cherry Esplanade | Ticketed Event

Inspired by trees’ underground communication network, three musicians will collaborate in an evening of unfolding soundscapes using voices, violin, plants, flowers, bells, synths, accordion, water, found objects, and mechanical percussion. Moving fluidly between dreamy immersive soundscapes and more dynamic, rhythmically driven compositions, the trio will explore a wide range of musical ideas. Floresta also stars nature itself as a featured performer as MIDI Sprout technology translates biodata from plants into music.

Performance Artist in Residence

Performances: Saturday, September 23 & Sunday, September 24, 2023

Location to Be Announced

Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s Artist in Residence program is a way for artists and visitors to see the Garden through a different artistic lens. The theme for the 2023 residency is Power of Trees, drawing inspiration from trees in our collections, tree care and caretakers, and the symbolism of trees as places of gathering, shelter, and culture. This year’s Performance Artist in Residence will be announced in June, and public performances of their work will take place in the Garden in September.

Indigenous Voices on Climate Change

Saturday, October 14, 2023

Part of City of Forest Day 2023 | In Partnership with Forest for All NYC

Chenae Bullock, enrolled Shinnecock Indian Nation tribal member and a descendant of the Montauk Tribe in Long Island, New York, and curator of Ohkehteau (Plants of the Earth): A Shinnecock Oral History, will lead programs on the effects of climate change on Indigenous populations in the region. The programs are part of City of Forest Day 2023, presented by Forest for All NYC in partnership with the Parks and Open Space Partners.


Quercus × hawkinsiae (hybrid oak). Photo by Michael Stewart.

About Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Founded in 1910, Brooklyn Botanic Garden (BBG) is an urban botanic garden that connects people to the world of plants, fostering delight and curiosity while inspiring an appreciation and sense of stewardship of the environment. Situated on 52 acres in the heart of Brooklyn and open year-round, the Garden is home to over 12,000 kinds of plants and more than 30 specialty gardens. Garden entrances are at 990 Washington Avenue, 150 Eastern Parkway, and 455 Flatbush Avenue. Learn more about BBG at bbg.org.


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