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Immersive, site-specific exhibition explores the geology and topography of the Hudson River
The Hudson Bight, 2018 (detail). Aluminum. Courtesy of the artist. Photo: Kris Graves.

YONKERS, NY.- Recognized as one of the most innovative artists working today, Maya Lin (born 1959) sees the world unlike any other artist. A deeply committed environmentalist, Lin interprets the natural world through art, science, history, and culture. Maya Lin: A River Is a Drawing is an ambitious, site-specific exhibition that explores nature’s lasting power and reveal its fragility through Maya Lin’s unique language of art.

The acclaimed artist and designer presents new works in a variety of media, from bamboo reeds to glass industrial marbles, all created in response to the Hudson River, activating the Museum both inside and out in new and exciting ways. The exhibition is on view at the Hudson River Museum from October 12, 2018 through January 20, 2019, and is guest curated by Miwako Tezuka, a modern and contemporary Asian art specialist.

Maya Lin was first introduced to international audiences at age 21 with the 1982 Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. This seminal work stands as one of the most powerful memorials of our time and reveals the elements of art that have defined Lin’s remarkable career in sculpture and earthworks, architecture, and memorials. She has continued to produce works that create a seamless connection to the land and an intimate and emotional connection to the viewer. In 2009, she was the recipient of the National Medal of Arts, the Smithsonian’s Portrait of a Nation Prize in 2015, and in 2016, of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the country’s highest civilian honor. Lin’s work has been the subject of solo museum exhibitions; she has created outdoor installations for public and private collections from New York to New Zealand. Many fine examples of her work have been presented at venues that include the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington D.C.; the Henry Art Gallery, Seattle, Washington; the Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, PA; the Wanås Foundation, Sweden; and the Danish Museum of Decorative Art, Copenhagen, Denmark. In 2009, the artist created a permanent site-specific work, Wavefield, at Storm King Art Center in the lower Hudson Valley.

The City of Yonkers, home to the Hudson River Museum, is a familiar terrain to Maya Lin. In 2004, she designed the Greyston Bakery along the Yonkers waterfront on the Hudson River. In 2014, along the same waterfront, Lin and her husband Daniel Wolf purchased the derelict Yonkers City Jail and have converted it into a private art space, a decision heralded by Mayor Mike Spano as an important sign of a new cultural commitment to the city and the region.

Long committed to environmental issues, Lin’s uniquely aesthetic approach to data visualization has brought to the fore nature’s macrocosmic presence in an affective, human scale, as is evident in her sculptures, installations, land art, monuments, and architectural work. Key building blocks of her work are often based on research in science and technology, and on information from sociohistorical, geological, and bio-statistical surveys. In speaking about this exhibition, Maya Lin states, “I see rivers as fluid moving drawings—delineated and drawn out. I have never explored the same river in varied mediums at one time the way I plan to at the Hudson River Museum. From the bamboo garden stakes, which will create a drawing you physically interact with, to an interior flood of marbles of the very same river, to a smaller mapping of the entire Hudson River watershed. Each one is a unique drawing, and each one offers a different way in which the body will interact with the form.”

Exhibition Overview
The exhibition is being presented in seven sections, with continuous focus on bodies of water, particularly the Hudson River. The exhibition begins in the lobby space with one of Maya Lin’s signature use of material, stainless steel pins. Pin River—Hudson Watershed is one of the largest in the series of her pin-river sculptures to date, composed with nearly 20,000 pins. In the Museum’s Courtyard, Lin created a majestic and immersive installation from more than 700 bamboo reeds in the form of a 3D drawing of the Hudson River basin. The bamboo stalks have been staked into the ground creating a complex and moving drawing. This large-scale work invites visitors to walk through the installation, becoming physically part of the landscape.

The second section has been situated on the grounds of HRM’s veranda and overhang looking out to the river vista. Lin drew lines in silver connecting existing cracks, holes, bumps on the grounds, visually connecting the Museum’s campus to the river. The subtle silver lines conjure up an aerial view of the river under the moonlight whose flow visitors can trace.

Continuing to the indoor space and responding to the HRM’s Brutalist building features, Lin installed an augmented seafloor map of the Hudson Canyon with contours drawn with webbing wires, a 35-foot piece that cascades through the Atrium. It echoes the deep-time history and geological formations related to the Hudson River. The Hudson Canyon is a submarine canyon created by the glacial change at the end of the last Ice Age. Indeed, it is one of the world’s largest submarine canyons at over 7,000 feet deep and located merely 100 miles from New York City. This work has been created as a woven wire three-dimensional drawing in space, reflecting Lin’s interest in engaging scientific mapping technologies to create wondrous and ethereal hand-made drawings that are experiential and immersive in scale.

In the adjacent gallery, Lin created The River of Marbles, a flood of pale blue-green industrial glass marbles that takes on a shape of the grand Hudson River basin. The approximately 50,000 recycled marbles follow and defy natural gravity and spread throughout the floor, the walls, and the ceiling. These delicate installations also speak to an almost woven or beaded aesthetic that plays with the notion of delicacy and scale in a surprising and contradictory way. The accumulation of the marbles cautions that the ecosystem is a balancing act of cohabitation by numerous creatures.

As part of her ongoing survey of rivers and waters, the exhibition also includes a suite of new drawings on paper that magnify points of interest in various rivers around the world with which she has thus far intimately engaged for artistic creations, including, and most significantly, relating to Lin’s own “habitat,” the Hudson. These works on paper are two-dimensional diagrams of poetic nature, intimately tied to the artist’s handwork. Exhibited nearby is another series of works, this time, encaustic relief sculptures based on the Laurentide Ice Sheet, which condense shapes of glacial changes of past millennial cycles affecting shapes of water as well as land.

The exhibition also includes an open-ended and invitational question “What is Missing?”, which is also the name of Maya Lin’s ongoing interactive digital art project and environmental advocacy movement ( A darkened gallery has been dedicated to a multi-channel video projection, Map of Memory: Hudson River Timeline, developed as part of this advocacy movement. The moving timeline is composed of text and images narrating habitat changes and population fluctuations of various species in and around the Hudson River throughout the history up to the present. In accompanying computer kiosks connected to the What is Missing? website, visitors are invited to share and add personal memories of what they have witnessed disappear or be restored in the natural environment that they are familiar with, helping to build together “What is Missing?” as a global online resource—what Maya Lin calls her “last memorial.”

Curator Miwako Tezuka notes, “With her characteristic poetry of precision, Maya Lin is able to give an artistic shape to climate change and its many impacts on our environment so that we may arrive at a confluence of nature and humanity. To her, drawing is not merely connecting one point to another; it is connecting multiple points of reference in multidimensional spaces, just as a river is a line on a map that carries underneath it a deep-time chronology. The river, in this sense, is both her subject and her double as an artist.”

“It is with enormous pride that we present Maya Lin’s work, which boldly brings our attention to the ways in which humanity and the environment live in delicate balance,” states Hudson River Museum Director Masha Turchinsky. “With a mission and collection that reflect a commitment to American art and the environmental issues of our time, the Hudson River Museum is uniquely positioned to highlight Lin’s groundbreaking artistic vision for the union of the conceptual and natural world.”

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