NEW YORK, NY.-
As part of its public art commissioning program, Madison Square Park Conservancy
opened a major, site-specific installation by Maya Lin that brings into focus the ravages of climate change on woodlands around the world. Ghost Forest takes the form of a towering grove of spectral cedar trees, all sourced from the region and presented in sharp contrast to the parks lush tree line. The installation builds on Lins practice of addressing species loss, habitat loss, and climate change within her work and serves as a call to action to the thousands of visitors who pass through the park daily. Originally planned for summer 2020, the exhibition is on view through November 14, 2021.
A series of virtual public events as well as in-person, socially distanced programs at the park complement the installation. These include a new soundscape composed by Lin in collaboration with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology that weaves together the calls and songs of some of the native animal species once common to Manhattan. Lectures on climate change with leading specialists are being held in collaboration with Fotografiska New York and meditative music performances, curated by Carnegie Hall and inspired by nature, are being within the installation throughout the summer. The project culminates in the fall with the planting of 1,000 native trees and shrubs in public natural area parks throughout each of New York Citys five boroughs, a partnership with Natural Areas Conservancy.
The Conservancy is also dedicating its annual public art symposium to exploring key issues raised by Ghost Forest. Held on June 4, the dynamic virtual event Greening Public Art is anchored by a keynote conversation with Maya Lin, Maria Rodale of the Rodale Institute, and Bill Ulfelder of The Nature Conservancy in New York, moderated by Andrew Revkin of Columbia Universitys Earth Institute.
Ghost Forest presents two striking alternatives within the context of Madison Square Park the ashen trees standing in contrast to the vibrancy of the park, said Brooke Kamin Rapaport, Deputy Director and Martin Friedman Chief Curator of Madison Square Park Conservancy. Mayas installation underscores the concept of transience and fragility in the natural world and stands as a grave reminder of the consequences of inaction to the climate crisis and poor land-use practices. Within a minimal visual language of austerity and starkness, Maya brings her role as an environmental activist and her vision as an artist to this work.
Ghost Forest derives its name from the eponymous natural phenomenon: vast tracts of forestland that have died off due to extreme weather events related to climate change as well as sea-level rise and saltwater infiltration. To create the installation, Lin worked together with the Conservancy to source dead trees from a restoration project in the Pine Barrens in New Jersey, a vulnerable site that has suffered severe deprivation. Atlantic white cedars were once plentiful on the East Coast, but their population has dwindled to below 50,000 acres because of historic forestry practices as well as the threats posed from climate change. The 49 cedar trees installed in the park were all slated to be cleared as part of regeneration efforts. In the park, visitors will be able to wander through the trees, which are organically interspersed in a dense cluster and stand 40 to 45 feet high. The installation brings the dire reality of this phenomenon to audiences in a dense urban environment and encourages a consideration of nature-based practices that can protect and restore the ecosystem.
As one of New Yorks beloved public greenspaces, the Conservancy is committed to advancing environmental stewardship at the park through our mission and program. We are honored to be collaborating with Maya Lin to realize this powerful new commission that will heighten awareness of the realities of climate change and of urgent environmental issues that affect us all, added the Conservancys Executive Director Keats Myer.
Ghost Forest is organized by Brooke Kamin Rapaport, Deputy Director and Martin Friedman Chief Curator; Tom Reidy, Deputy Director, Finance and Special Projects; and Truth Murray-Cole, Curatorial Manager. Keats Myer is the Conservancys Executive Director.
Maya Lin (American, b. 1959) is internationally recognized for her wide-ranging practice that encompasses large-scale environmental installations, architectural projects, and memorials, as well as intimate studio artworks. A committed environmentalist, Lin has dedicated a significant part of her practice to exploring issues related to climate change, including an ongoing web-based project What is Missing?, which raises awareness on habitat loss and biodiversity and emphasizes our ability to protect and restore species and significantly reduce carbon emissions through habitat preservation.
Lin has been the subject of numerous solo exhibitions at museums and galleries worldwide, with works in the permanent collections of the National Gallery of Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Museum of Modern Art, and the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, among others. She has also created permanent outdoor installations for public and private collections around the world including the American Embassy in Beijing, Brown University, California Academy of Sciences, Cleveland Public Library, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Federal Courthouse in Miami, Princeton University, Rockefeller Foundation, Shantou University, Storm King Art Center, Wexner Center of the Arts, and Yale University. This spring, her design of the Neilson Library at Smith College opened. She is also re-launching the website for Whatismissing.org courtesy of a National Geographic grant.
In 2009, she was awarded the National Medal of Arts, the nations highest honor for artistic excellence. In 2016, President Barack Obama awarded Lin the nations highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Born in 1959 and based in New York and Colorado, Lin holds degrees from Yale and Yale School of Architecture. She is represented by Pace Gallery in New York.