Best known for designing the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Asian American artist Maya Lin’s latest artwork is once again the center of attention in an exhibition entitled Maya Lin: Systematic Landscapes.
The exhibition will be on display from October 25, 2008-January 18, 2009 at the de Young Museum, located in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park.
As a “committed environmentalist,” Lin’s latest work, Maya Lin: Systematic Landscapes, features sculptures and drawings that focus on the natural world.
Systematic Landscapes is Lin’s second national traveling exhibition in 10 years, with venues in Seattle, St. Louis, San Diego, and Washington, D.C.
During Lin’s comments to the media at the de Young Museum opening, she emphasized that she is “not preaching through art” as some critics may have suggested. Although her latest artwork does focuses on nature and the environment, she felt the purpose of the artwork was to inspire people to “look at thing’s differently” and see “what is below.”
Lin remarked that we all should take a longer look at the things around us, much as children so often do.
As we get older we think we know what it is, but how often do we stop and pay attention to something?” said Lin.
For Systematic Landscapes, Lin has created a trio of large-scale sculptural installations that “present different ways to encounter and comprehend the landscape.” Each work is composed of a single natural material. The exhibition also includes a series of sculptures based on the water volumes of various inland seas.
“I wanted to tweak [people’s perceptions], their ability to think about how they see thing’s. I wanted them to take a closer look at what is below the water level,” said Lin about Water Line, a wire-frame three-dimensional drawing in space based on an undersea formation, is installed overhead and dips into the visitor’s sight line.
In addition to Water Line, Lin also created 2×4 Landscape, a vast hill built of 65,000 boards set on end, presenting a land surface rising from the gallery floor, and Blue Lake Pass, a topographic translation of a Colorado mountain range made of layers of stacked particleboard that have been segmented and pulled apart to create landscape strata through which the visitor can see.
Systematic Landscapes also includes a series of sculptures based on the water volumes of various inland seas; plaster reliefs of imagined landscapes that are embedded directly into gallery walls; large drawings of landforms and river sheds; and altered atlases that present alternative topographies.
Lin stated that she used some exaggeration in her artwork to accentuate the individual pieces, but ultimately her goal for viewers is to “get you to think about what’s underneath” and to ” make that which is invisible visible.”
Concurrent with Systematic Landscapes is the debut of Lin’s public art installation Where the Land Meets the Sea, a tubular wire sculpture commissioned by the San Francisco Arts Commission for the California Academy of Sciences, also located in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. The installation is the first permanent work by Lin in San Francisco. The de Young exhibition will feature small-scale models, maquettes, and renderings of the piece, engaging audiences in Lin’s creative thinking process and studio practice.
In 1981, Maya Lin was thrust into the public eye at age 21 while still an undergraduate at Yale University, when she won a public design competition for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial to be built in Washington, D.C. She was trained as an artist and architect, and her sculptures, parks, monuments, and architectural projects are linked by her ideal of making a place for individuals within the landscape.
Lin draws much of her inspiration for her sculpture and architecture from culturally diverse sources, including Japanese gardens, Hopewell Indian earthen mounds and works by American earthworks artists of the 1960s and 1970s.
As both artist and architect, Lin’s artwork reflects heavily on her interest in the environment, a commitment that is also reflected in her work as an advisor on sustainable energy use, and as a Board Member of the National Resources Defense Council.
The exhibition was sponsored through a major grant from Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) with the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.
“This exhibition continues my interest in exploring notions of landscape and geologic phenomena,” said Lin. “The works created, both small- and large-scale installations, reveal new and at times unexpected views of the natural world: from the topology of the ocean floor to the stratified layers of a mountain to a form that sits between water and earth.”
NOTES: In addition to the Maya Lin: Systematic Landscapes exhibition, the de Young will present Asian / American / Modern Art: Shifting Currents, 1900-1970, a comprehensive exhibition exploring the rich history of work produced by artists of Asian ancestry in America. Featuring 95 masterworks created during the first seven decades of the 20th Century, the exhibit focuses light on some of the most important cultural contributions of Asian Americans during that period.
Highlighting the exhibition, are artworks from the 1960s Fluxus innovations of media artists Nam June Paik and Yoko Ono; the first museum exhibiton of public artworks by Tseng Yuho and Dong Kingman; and abstract art from Yun Gee, Alfonso Ossorio, and Isamu Noguchi. Other prominent artists with works premiering in the exhibition, include Mine Okubo and George Matsusaboro Hibi created during the internment of Japanese Americans during WWII.
According to Guest Curator MarK Dean Johnson, the exhibition is a culmination of ten years of research and collaboration. San Francisco State University partnered with the Archives of American Art at theSmithsonian Institution (with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities) to research artist biographies and learn about their work.
Additionally, a new limited-edition sculpture by Lin, continues the artist’s exploration of the contours of natural forms. Its thin, sinuous shape traces the path of the Tuolumne River through the Hetch Hetchy Valley. Cast from the reclaimed silver of photo etchings, the work is mounted with pins that fix to the wall. The edition is presented in an elegant, hot-stamped portfolio box.
Entitled Silver River – ”Tuolumne River, Hetch Hetchy is an image of the Tuolumne River from the High Sierra of eastern Yosemite National Park until it joins the San Joaquin River and flows into the San Joaquin Delta and San Francisco Bay. Silver River represents the Tuolumne River as it flowed after the 1923 completion of the O’Shaughnessy Dam, the flooding of the Hetch Hetchy Valley, and the creation of the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir to provide water and electricity to people in the San Francisco Bay Area.
For more information or to place an order, please call 415-750-3511 or visit www.famsf.org/store. All proceeds benefit the exhibitions program of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. Edition of 30, each $15,000. Special price of $12,500 until December 1, 2008 Available exclusively from the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco
The de Young Museum is located in Golden Gate Park at 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive, San Francisco, CA 94118, Hours: Tuesday – “Thursday, Saturday and Sunday, 9:30 am – “5:15 pm; Friday 9:30 am – “8:45 pm; Closed on Monday
For more information go to website at: www.deyoungmuseum.org