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Mona Chalabi. The Gray-Green Divide (detail), 2022. Ink and colored pencil on paper, dimensions variable. © Mona Chalabi.

Mona Chalabi. The Gray-Green Divide (detail), 2022. Ink and colored pencil on paper, dimensions variable. © Mona Chalabi.

Mona Chalabi: The Gray-Green Divide

June–December 2022

Deepen your appreciation for trees through the work of artist and data journalist Mona Chalabi. This site-specific installation explores environmental justice and climate change, exposing their unequal impacts on Brooklyn communities. In a time of pandemic and rising temperatures, The Gray-Green Divide asks which neighborhoods lack vegetation—and at what cost.

In playful drawings and data-driven visualizations, Mona, as she prefers to be called, investigates why trees matter. Not only do trees create shade and shelter, reduce energy needs, and remove air pollution, but access to trees also affects physical and mental wellness. When many New Yorkers were confined to their homes due to COVID-19, extreme heat and unequal proximity to cool green space became, and remain, heightened public health issues.

Find drawings of New York City’s one hundred most common trees, based on data from NYC Parks, on our front steps. By illustrating each tree and its leaves, Mona invites us to admire the surrounding greenery. On the adjacent wall, maps of Brooklyn show average temperatures and tree locations. A chart reveals how tree density corresponds with neighborhood wealth. Together these works tell hard truths about the inequities of our borough’s green spaces, laying bare the links among incomes, trees, and heat.

Mona Chalabi: The Gray-Green Divide is organized by Lauren Zelaya, Director of Public Programs, Brooklyn Museum. 

Generous support is provided by The Future is Unwritten Artist Response Fund as part of Healing Arts, a global cultural call to action in response to the pandemic. Healing Arts 2022 is produced by CULTURUNNERS and Arts + Health @ NYU under the auspices of the WHO Arts and Health Program. 

Resources provided by NYC Parks and NYC Council.



Want to help preserve and expand the city's green spaces? Join organizations dedicated to this cause, such as GrowNYC, the NYC Environmental Justice Alliance, and UPROSE.

Have you noticed a lack of trees on your block? Visit the NYC Parks website to request a free planting and to become a park steward.

Find out about efforts to plant a million trees in New York City by 2030.

Learn about Forest for All NYC, a coalition of over fifty organizations working to expand the city’s urban tree canopy.