Installation view of Maya Lin at Pace Wildenstein via Maya Lin Studio.
With such little time this afternoon it was a tough call between Cy Twombly’s “Eight Sculptures” at Gagosian on Madison and Maya Lin’s “Three Ways Of Looking At The Earth” at Pace Wildenstein on 545 West 22nd Street. Despite our high regard for Twombly and obvious curiosity for his sculptures we set aside our personal preferences and chose Maya Lin, not only because this exhibition is her first solo with Pace Wildenstein, but also because of the Miami connection – in 2007 Lin created Flutter, a notable landform artwork commissioned for Arquitectonica’s Federal Courthouse. Based upon her 1995 piece The Wave Field, a 10,000 sqft project for the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, which is characterized by repetitive, cupped waves ranging in scale from three to six feet in height, Flutter at double the size serves the dual purpose of preventing cars etc from ramming the court house, a consideration that was apparently prevalent in the work’s placement.
One of the rare few who have managed to forge a path in both art and architecture, an aspiration presently pursued by Daniel Arsham, a contemporary artist who spent his formative years in Miami, Maya Lin creates places of refuge and contemplation in highly public places. She has redefined the idea of a monument, addressing the critical social and political issues of our time — war, racism and gender equality — with her highly acclaimed works: the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial (Washington, DC 1982), the Civil Rights Memorial (Montgomery, AL 1989), and The Women’s Table (Yale University, New Haven, CT 1993). Their intimate human scale invites visitors to touch, feel, respond, and contemplate.
Three Ways of Looking at the Earth includes three large-scale installations, excerpted from her museum show ‘Systematic Landscapes,’ which premiered at the Henry Art Gallery in Seattle in 2006. The works on view represent different topographies, two real and one imagined, and via a dramatic downshift of scale allow viewers to experience inaccessible or impossible landscapes in an unfamiliar perspective.
In the catalog 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.”
Throughout Maya Lin’s body of work is a profound respect and love for the natural environment. Her interest in landscape has led to works influenced by natural topographies and geologic phenomena, finding inspiration from rock formations, fluid dynamics, solar eclipses, and aerial and satellite photography. Immersion in her work prompts reassessment of our relationship to the natural world.
Concurrently, (September 24 through November 13, 2009) Salon 94 (94th street between Madison and Fifth Avenues) is showing Maya Lin: Recycled Landscapes, a selection of smaller sculptures made from recycled materials.
With only an hour or two to spare and a grumbling belly from all this gallivanting were now heading over to Leo Koenig Inc where in addition to Naomi Fisher’s The Brave Keep Undefiled, A Wisdom of Their Own (September 18 through October 24, 2009) an exhibition of new photographs, drawings and videos that explore the reciprocal relationship between the force of nature and its tendency towards chaos as it stands in opposition to the order and structure of civilization, they are having a food drive and a series of potluck dinners at their next door ‘projekte’ space as part of the exhibition Don’t Perish (September 18 – October 17, 2009) curated by Joseph Montgomery and Jesse Willenbring. Dinners are being held at the gallery this month on the 6th, 10th, 13th and 17th. Unfortunately we don’t have much to offer save for a few Murray Mints, but are sure they won’t turn away needy lurkers.
This post was contributed by Thomas Hollingworth.