World-renowned artist Maya Lin discusses the evolution of her final memorial project, "What is Missing?," which debuted at the California Academy of Sciences on September 17.
The memorial is dedicated to raising awareness about the crisis surrounding biodiversity and habitat loss. This permanent sculpture at the Academy is the international debut of a multi-sited multimedia work that will exist both physically and virtually.
The work, along with Lin's other sculpture at the California Academy of Sciences, "Where the Land Meets the Sea," were commissioned by the San Francisco Arts Commission and reflect the Academy's drive to explore, explain and protect the natural world.
Greg Farrington is executive director and William R. and Gretchen B. Kimball Chair of the California Academy of Sciences. Since beginning his post in 2007, Farrington has focused efforts on addressing what CAS considers to be two of the most important scientific questions of our time: How did life happen? And how can we sustain it? CAS is the only institution in the world to combine a museum, aquarium, and planetarium, as well as vigorous programs of research and education. Farrington came to CAS after eight years as president of Lehigh University. Prior to that, he spent 19 years at the University of Pennsylvania. A widely published chemist, Farrington holds more than two dozen patents and has written more than 100 articles in the fields of solid-state chemistry, electrochemistry, and education.
Maya Lin has maintained a careful balance in her career between art and architecture, creating a remarkable body of work that includes large-scale site-specific installations, intimate studio artworks, and architectural works. In 2009, Maya Lin was awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Barack Obama.
In her large-scale environmental artworks, she has consistently explored how we experience and relate to the landscape. From her recent works such as Storm King Wavefield (2009, seven undulating hills of earth and grass that give the appearance of ocean waves), Where the Land Meets the Sea (2008, a drawing in space based upon the topology of the San Francisco Bay) and Eleven Minute Line (2004, an earthen line 1600 feet long by 12 feet high, traversing a meadow in Sweden) back to her very first—the Vietnam Veterans' Memorial, where she cut open the land and polished its edges to create a history embedded in the earth -- she has made works that merge completely with the terrain, blurring the boundaries between two -- and three-dimensional space and setting up a systematic ordering of the land that is tied to history, time, and language.
Her studio artwork has been shown in solo museum exhibitions in the US, Italy, Denmark, and Sweden. The exhibition Maya Lin: Systematic Landscapes, which opened at Seattle’s Henry Art Gallery, is the first to translate the scale and coherence of her outdoor installations to the interior space of a museum. Three Ways to See the Earth: Selections from Systematic Landscapes is currently showing at PaceWildenstein in New York City.
Ms. Lin's architectural works have been critically acclaimed both nationally and internationally. Her recent architecture includes the Museum of Chinese in America, opening September 22, 2009 in Chinatown, New York City, the Riggio-Lynch Chapel and Langston Hughes Library for the Children's Defense Fund, an Environmental Learning lab at Manhattanville College, and a private residence in Colorado that was honored as one of Architecture Record’s Record Houses in 2006.
A committed environmentalist, Lin has consistently focused on environmental issues and concerns- promoting sustainable building design in her architectural works while in her artworks asking us to pay closer attention to the natural world. Her last memorial, entitled What is Missing?, which focuses on extinct and endangered species and places, debuts at the California Academy of Sciences on September 17, 2009, with a debut in China on September 19 at the Beijing Center for the Arts, and a global debut on Earth Day 2010.
Maya Lin received BA from Yale in 1981 and her Master of Architecture from Yale University in 1986, and has maintained a professional studio in New York City since then. Lin is represented by PaceWildenstein Gallery in New York. She currently serves on the Board of Trustees of the Natural Resources Defense Council and is a member of the Yale Corporation. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Presidential Design Award, an AIA Honor Award, the Finn Juhl Prize, and honorary doctorates from among others, Yale, Harvard, Williams College, and Smith College. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and in 2005 was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame.
She has been profiled in Time Magazine, The New York Times Magazine and The New Yorker and her architecture and artworks have consistently elicited praise in magazines ranging from Newsweek to Art in America to Architectural Record. In 1996 a documentary about her work, Maya Lin: A Strong Clear Vision won the Academy Award for Best Documentary. She lives in New York City with her husband, Daniel Wolf, and their two children.