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Maya Lin

Three Ways of Looking at the Earth, Selections from Systematic Landscapes

About Maya Lin

Maya Lin’s (b. 1959, Athens, Ohio) acclaimed work encompasses large-scale environmental installations, intimate studio artworks, architectural projects and memorials. Her artwork interprets the world through a twenty-first century lens, utilizing technological methods to study and visualize the natural environment. In her sculpture and drawing, Lin merges rational order with notions of beauty. Blurring boundaries between two- and three-dimensional space, Lin sets up a systematic ordering of the landscape tied to history, time, science and language. The 2014 recipient of the Gish Prize for her contributions to art and social change, Lin has been the subject of solo museum exhibitions and created outdoor installations for public and private collections from New York to New Zealand. Her final—yet ongoing—memorial, What is Missing?, debuted in 2009 and challenges the nature of the memorial as a static object, while raising awareness about habitat loss and biodiversity.

Press Release

  • Maya Lin: Three Ways of Looking at the Earth
    PaceWildenstein is pleased to announce an exhibition of three large-scale environmental installations by Maya Lin, selected from her recent traveling museum exhibition Systematic Landscapes, on view at 545 West 22nd Street, New York City from September 10 through October 24, 2009. Maya Lin: Three Ways of Looking at the Earth is the artist’s first solo exhibition at PaceWildenstein since joining the gallery in 2008. A catalogue published on the occasion of Lin’s exhibition at the Henry Art Gallery with essays by the museum’s director and curator Richard Andrews, John Beardsley, and a foreword by Lawrence Weschler will accompany the exhibition. The artist will be present for an opening reception on Thursday, September 10th from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Concurrently, Salon 94 (94th Street between Madison and Fifth Avenues) will present Maya Lin: Recycled Landscapes, a selection of Lin’s smaller sculptures made from recycled materials from September 24 through November 13, 2009. An opening reception will be held on Wednesday, September 23rd from 6-8 p.m Maya Lin has stated that her “creative process balances analytic study, based very much on research, with, in the end, a purely intuited gesture.” She employs tools such as models, grids, and topographic drawings as well as more advanced scientific technology (sonar and radar mapping, satellite photographs) to study and respond to regions of the natural world that are largely inaccessible, and often times, impossible to experience or observe with the naked eye. In Three Ways of Looking at the Earth, Lin has subjected three very different topographies (two real and one imagined) to dramatic shifts in scale that allow a re-imagining of our natural world as three-dimensional environments recreated in the interior space of a gallery. Lin further transforms viewers’ perspectives about the land and the sea by inviting them to navigate around, through and under these site-related installations. 2 x 4 Landscape was initially conceived by Lin as a way to bring landscape into an architectural setting. The installation’s pixilated form, consisting of over 50,000 vertical two-by-four pieces of Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) certified wood, resembles a wave or hill that swells to 10 feet high at its peak and occupies a total of 1,900 square feet. Based on terrain from the Rocky Mountains, Blue Lake Pass explores a specific region of Southwestern Colorado that is personally familiar to Lin, whose family vacations there each summer. Lin imposed a 3 x 3 foot grid on the topography, which was then scaled down and sectioned into 20 individual units that form narrow passageways through the mountain pass. Water Line maps the ocean floor along the Mid-Atlantic ridge as it ascends to Bouvet Island, one of the most remote islands in the world, located roughly 1,000 miles to the north of Antarctica. Working with scientists at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute in Massachusetts, Lin created a topographic rendering based on research gathered by scientific expeditions of the ocean floor. The result is a 19' x 34' 8" x 29' 2" suspended, painted aluminum wire lin drawing that invites viewers to pass underneath and around a landscape hidden miles beneath the ocean. Bouvet Island is depicted as the highest point of the installation, and at certain points, visitors are at eye level with what is meant to be sea level, thus heightening the experience of the changing terrain as it moves from air to water to earth. Maya Lin’s three installations, each created out of a single material, and each revealing something new and startling about the planet we inhabit, seek to enlighten viewers by challenging their psychological and physical relationship with the natural world. In the catalogue essay, Lin is quoted as saying “A strong respect and love for the land exists throughout my work. I cannot remember a time when I was not concerned with environmental issues or when I did not feel humbled by the beauty of the natural world....these works are a response to that beauty.” In addition to Three Ways of Looking at the Earth, Lin will debut her final public memorial entitled What is Missing? at the California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco and Storm King Art Center, New York in the fall. What is Missing? is part of a larger commission awarded to Lin by the San Francisco Arts Commission. Where the Land Meets the Sea, the initial phase of that commission, was unveiled last September at the Academy and coincided with the opening of the newly-designed Renzo Piano building. The inauguration of What is Missing? marks the building’s one-year anniversary. Maya Lin’s solo show Bodies of Water will be on view at Storm King Art Center in the ground floor museum space through November 15, 2009. Bodies of Water investigates water in all its various states through installation, sculpture, photography, drawings, and models, many of which relate to the site-specific earthwork Storm King Wavefield positioned on the southwestern edge of the sculpture park. The exhibition’s opening coincided with the official inauguration of Storm King Wavefield. Maya Lin’s design for the new Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA) at 211-215 Centre Street in New York City was unveiled at the end of June 2009. The building, once an industrial machine repair shop, has been converted into a 14,000 square-foot museum featuring sustainable design elements and strategies. Upon entering the museum’s lobby visitors are greeted by Lin’s Journey Wall, a permanent, bronze-tiled installation that connects the origins of Chinese American families with their current locations throughout the United States. A sky-lit atrium in the center of the building—reminiscent of traditional Chinese courtyard houses—was intentional left raw and exposed brick from the original structure serves as a poignant reminder of the past. The grand opening of the museum is scheduled for September 22, 2009. Maya Lin (b. 1959, Athens, Ohio) graduated cum laude from Yale University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1981. She went on to earn her Master of Architecture degree from Yale in 1986, and has maintained a professional studio in New York City since then. A dedicated environmentalist, Lin has been committed to focusing attention on the natural world throughout her career, and has incorporated sustainable and recycled material into many of her artworks. She currently serves on the Board of Trustees of the Natural Resources Defense Council and Museum of Chinese in America, and is a former member of both the Yale Corporation and the Energy Foundation. Lin’s artwork has been profiled in publications such as the New York Times, Time Magazine, Art in America, National Geographic and the Smithsonian, among others. She was selected for the first season of PBS’s Art21: Art in the Twenty-First Century television series, and her work was the subject of the Academy Award–winning film Maya Lin: A Strong Clear Vision. Maya Lin is the recipient of numerous prizes and awards, and has received honorary doctorates from Yale, Harvard, and Smith College, among others. Lin is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame in 2005. In 2007, she was awarded a National Endowment for the Arts Grant for Confluence Project. Additional information on Maya Lin is available by upon request by contacting Jennifer Benz Joy at or Lauren Staub at, or by calling 212.421.3292.