Maya Lin: Systematic Landscapes
Henry Art Gallery
Seattle, Washington, USA
On view: April 22, 2006 - September 03, 2006
Maya Lin has an extraordinary ability to convey complex and poetic ideas using simple forms and natural materials./Richard Andrews, Director, Henry Art Gallery
Maya Lin works with a vocabulary of form culled from her study
of landscape. By altering scale and materials, she creates works
that connect the ideal and the real.
The three installations all engage with the problem of bringing land masses into architecture by translating landscapes, two real and one imagined, into the materials of architecture while inviting viewers to move under, on, or through the works.
Each work is composed of a single material. Each, configured to
evoke a different aspect of landscape, went through the same
process of design: creation of a three-dimensional model in Lin's
studio, translation via scanning or plotting into digital drawings,
and finally, full scale construction in Seattle.
2x4 Landscape is composed of more than fifty thousand vertical two-by-four boards placed in a configuration minutely detailed in models and drawings. Covering approximately twenty-four hundred square feet, it rises from a plane of short two-by-four segments to a hill ten feet tall. From some views the sculpture reads as a land from, and from others as a rising wave.
Water Line is a line drawing in space of a particular underwater
location on the Mid Atlantic Ridge. The site rises a few miles from
the sea floor and is visible on the surface as Bouvet Island, one
of the most remote islands in the world. Working with scientists at
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, Lin and members of her studio,
developed a topographic rendering of the seascape. The rendering
was translated into architectural scale and fabricated from
quarter-inch diameter aluminum tubes.
Blue Lake Pass, takes its name from a landmark within a selected zone. The cubes forming the sculpture are made from vertical sheets of particle board with the top edges cut to match a topographic line. Pulled apart into a grid, the topographic image is disjointed and the spaces between the cubes become narrow paths, or cuts, through the geography of the sculpture, exposing strata much like a highway carved through a mountain pass.
The unseen landscape is further explored in the Bodies of Water series, Lin's portraits of specific inland island seas, whose expanses of salt water are partially or wholly landlocked.
Here Lin takes up the representation of these immense volumes of
water and shapes them from plywood layers. The resulting sculpture
is balanced on its deepest point. The three bodies of water
represented in the exhibition, the Caspian, Black, and Red Seas,
are the most endangered in the world.
Pin River is a linear view of a river system, composed of tens
of thousands of straight pins pushed into the wall to create a flow
of silver that is a shadow image of the Columbia River. A subtle
environmental message is underscored by the slightly exaggerated
swelling of the pins at the multiple dam sites on the river.
Also featured are plaster reliefs of imagined landscapes that are embedded directly into the walls, large drawings of land forms and river sheds, and photographs and video of Lin's recent large scale earthworks.
An ambitious collaboration between the artist on the one hand and various Pacific Northwest communities on the other, the Confluence Project will create permanent environmental art installations at seven sites, strung along a 450-mile stretch of the Columbia River and its tributaries. These site-specific works will mark the route of contact between Native Americans and the Lewis and Clark Expedition, providing opportunities to reflect upon the past, think about the future, and experience the connection between human history and the natural world.
The ceremonial completion of Cape Disappointment State Park, the first of seven sites, took place on April 22, 2006.
The exhibition was curated by Richard Andrews, director of the Henry Art Gallery.
Last updated: December 10, 2012