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Maya Lin: Systematic Landscapes Opened at the de Young Museum
Maya Lin, Blue Lake Pass, 2006. Duraflake particleboard. Courtesy of the artist and Gagosian Gallery. Photo by Colleen Chartier.

SAN FRANCISCO, CA.- Recent sculptures, drawings, and installations by the celebrated artist Maya Lin are on view at the de Young Museum through January 18, 2009. Lin (b. 1959) came to prominence in 1981 with her design for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and has since achieved a high degree of recognition for a body of work that includes monuments, buildings, earthworks, sculpture, and installations. Systematic Landscapes is Lin’s second nationally-traveling exhibition in ten years, with venues in Seattle, St. Louis, San Diego, and Washington, D.C. “This exhibition continues my interest in exploring notions of landscape and geologic phenomena,” says 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.”

Lin’s extraordinary ability to convey complex and poetic ideas using simple forms and natural materials is fully evident in Systematic Landscapes. Working in a scale that relates to the land, and combining a deep interest in forces and forms of nature with a long-term investigation into the possibilities of sculptural form to embody meaning, this exhibition offers a rich, immersive experience for visitors that brings the sensory understanding of Lin’s outdoor works inside.

Lin has created a trio of large-scale sculptural installations for the exhibition that present different ways to encounter and comprehend the landscape. 2x4 Landscape (2006), a vast hill built of 65,000 boards set on end, presents a land surface rising from the gallery floor. Water Line (2006), a wire-frame three-dimensional drawing in space based on an undersea formation, is installed overhead and dips into the visitor’s sightline. Blue Lake Pass (2006) is 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.

Concurrent with Systematic Landscapes is the debut of Maya 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 in 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.

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