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Artist Maya Lin creates sculpture of Missouri River for Nelson-Atkins
Rivers have always been a strong theme for Lin, who is a committed environmentalist. Photo: Tiffany Mattson.

KANSAS CITY, MO.- Artist, sculptor and architectural designer Maya Lin was commissioned by The Nelson Atkins Museum of Art to create a work of art inspired by the twisting beauty of the Missouri River that was installed on Nov. 15. The gracefully winding Silver Missouri was created from recycled silver and hangs in the Bloch Building.

“Maya Lin has distinguished herself by designing landscapes and sculptures in which she attempts to say something new about our environment,” said Julián Zugazagoitia, Director & CEO of the Nelson-Atkins. “We are very excited to welcome her most recent creation to the Nelson-Atkins.”

Rivers have always been a strong theme for Lin, who is a committed environmentalist.

“A lot of my work is focused on getting people to think of things in the natural world that might be right under their noses,” Lin said. “I’ve been working on rivers that are our most precious waterways. I love understanding more about these rivers and the Missouri has an amazing pattern and flow.”

Lin designed the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. In 1981, the 21 year-old Lin won a public design competition for the memorial while still an undergrad at Yale University. The granite, V-shaped wall is one of the most popular monuments in the nation’s capital.

Silver Missouri is part of a series Lin began with her 2009 sculpture, Silver River, of the Colorado River. The series makes a statement about water conservation.

“Look at how much water this country wastes,” said Lin. “Water is a critical discussion point. It’s the lifeblood of our cities. We are wasting our children’s future. We have all the tools to solve this problem and I want people to focus on that.”

Lin chooses a river of importance and searches for as much satellite mapping as she can find; she then studies the river’s intricacies and draws parts of it by hand before creating the sculpture using recycled silver.

“I am in love with the hand drawn process,” she said. “I don’t ever want to lose sight of the translation through the human hand. I really want people to look at my art and see the beauty that’s right there and that they may not have noticed before.”

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