Maya Lin, Blue Lake Pass, 2006, Duraflake particleboard, Courtesy of the artist and Gagosian Gallery, Photo by Colleen Chartier.

Maya Lin: Understanding the Nature of and our Relationship to Landscape

Maya Lin, 2 X 4 Landscape, 2006. Wood. 36’ x 53’ x 10’ Courtesy of the artist and Gagosian Gallery. Photo by Colleen Chartier.

Maya Lin, 2 X 4 Landscape, 2006. Wood. 36’ x 53’ x 10’ Courtesy of the artist and Gagosian Gallery. Photo by Colleen Chartier.

Maya Lin, Water Line, 2006, Aluminum tubing and paint. 19' x 34' 8" x 29' 2" Photo by Colleen Chartier.

Portrait of Maya Lin. Photograph by Cheung Ching Ming.


Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis
12580 Rott Road
St. Louis
Maya Lin: Systematic Landscapes
September 7-December 30, 2007

Maya Lin: Systematic Landscapes, explores how we see, and come to understand, landscape in a crucial time. Maya Lin, who examines how our current relationship to landscape is extended, condensed, distorted, and mapped via new technologies, translates these systematized spaces of the natural world into objects and environments that can be engaged physically.

Filling the Contemporary’s three exhibition galleries in a distinctive transformation of the space, this large solo-exhibition presents Lin’s newest work, in which she investigates the notion of landscape as both form and content. Systematic Landscapes features three large-scale installations, each of which puts the museum visitor into a distinctive relationship to a natural form: 2 x 4 Landscape, a hill or wave form built of 65,000 boards set on end that can be walked on; Water Line, a wire-frame topographic surface based on an undersea formation that can either be walked under or viewed from above; and Blue Lake Pass, a topographic translation of an actual mountain range, made of layers of stacked particle board, which have been segmented and then pulled apart to create a landscape strata that one can walk through. As Lin herself explains, “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.”

The Contemporary is also commissioning and debuting in a new sculptural work by Maya Lin based upon the local confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers. This new work, Pin River, is based on Lin’s deep interest in the role that our river systems have played, and continue to play, in our nation’s history. Depicting a linear view of the shape of the rivers, Pin River is comprised of tens of thousands of straight pins pushed into the wall to create a sinuous flow of silver that is a shadow image of the place where the two rivers converge in St. Louis.

Maya Lin: Systematic Landscapes was organized by The Henry Art Gallery, University of Washington in Seattle and curated by its director Richard Andrews. The exhibition is accompanied by a comprehensive catalogue.

Over the course of 25 years, Maya Lin has created a remarkable body of work that includes large-scale site-specific installations and intimate studio works. Maya Lin is justly celebrated for producing public monuments, earthworks, sculpture, architecture, and landscape design. The breadth and diversity of her work resists categorization, as her creative output ranges freely across the boundaries of art, architecture, and design.

An artist who subtly but decisively alters the viewer’s relationship to space and landscape, the artwork’s relationship to natural form and built environment, Lin first came to prominence when she redefined the memorial, with her Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC, and the Civil Rights Memorial in Montgomery, Alabama. Since then, she has created works at all scales that re-order our categories of understanding: blurring the boundaries between two- and three-dimensional space and re-imagining the grids of history, language and mathematics by which humans encounter the natural world.

Lin’s artwork has been shown in solo museum exhibitions in the United States, Italy, Denmark, and Sweden, and at the Gagosian Gallery, which represents her. Maya Lin: Systematic Landscapes picks up the thread of her previous museum exhibition, Topologies, continuing its exploration of people’s relationship to the land; but it is also a departure, as the first exhibition that has carefully translated the scale and coherence of her outdoor installations to the interior space of a museum.

Lin’s best-known works are her large, site-specific art installations. They include Groundswell, for the Wexner Center for the Arts; Wave Field for the University of Michigan; 10 degrees North for The Rockefeller Foundation; and Eclipsed Time for MTA Arts in Transit, for New York’s Pennsylvania Station. The largest to date, eleven minute line, is an earthen line, 1600 feet long by 12 feet high, traversing a meadow in Kniesling, Sweden. Completed in 2004 for the Wanas Foundation, eleven minute line is the first in a series of works that will explore the character and identity of a line drawing, as experienced on the boundary between two- and three-dimensional space.

Other recent large-scale artworks include Input (2004) for Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, a 3.5-acre array of raised and lowered earthworks inscribed with a text written by the artist’s brother, Tan Lin, about childhood memory and one’s connection to a place; Flutter (2005), a 20,000 square foot sculpted earthwork, reminiscent of the patterns cast on the ocean floor by waves, for the Federal Courthouse, and A Garden of Perception (2005) for the School of the Arts of the University of California at Irvine. Lin’s studio-scale artworks are in the permanent collections of major institutions throughout the United States, including The Museum of Modern Art, and in numerous private collections.

Maya Lin is the recipient of numerous awards. Most recently she was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame, becoming the youngest artist ever to be so honored. She also has been inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Her work was chronicled in the documentary film Maya Lin: A Strong Clear Vision (Academy Award, best feature-length documentary, 1996), and she has been a subject of the program Art 21: Art in the 21st Century on PBS. The national press has focused on her consistently over the years, from Time magazine (which included her in its list of Fifty for the Future in 1994) to Smithsonian (which in 2005 selected her as one of 35 Who Made a Difference).

Maya Lin: Systematic Landscapes is organized by the Henry Art Gallery and curated by Director Richard Andrews. Major support for this exhibition was provided by the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and The Peter Norton Family Foundation.


Maya Lin, Water Line, 2006, Aluminum tubing and paint, 19' x 34' 8" x 29' 2", Photo by Colleen Chartier.