Exhibition focuses on Maya Lin's artistic investigations of water and her ongoing environmental activism

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Exhibition focuses on Maya Lin's artistic investigations of water and her ongoing environmental activism
Maya Lin: Nature Knows No Boundaries, 267 Itawon-ro, Yongsan-gu, Seoul. January 20 – March 11, 2023. Photography courtesy Pace Gallery.

SEOUL.- Pace Gallery is presenting an exhibition of work by artist, architect, and environmental activist Maya Lin at its recently expanded arts complex in Seoul. On view from January 20 to March 11, the presentation, titled Nature Knows No Boundaries brings together new and recent installations and sculptures emblematic of the artist’s style. The exhibition, which marks the artist’s first solo show in Korea, focuses on Lin’s longstanding artistic investigations of water and her ongoing environmental activism.

Lin—who is known for her critical engagement with notions of site and place through a multidisciplinary, ecologically minded practice— rose to prominence in the United States after winning a nationwide design competition for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. in 1982. Other major public commissions by the artist include the Civil Rights Memorial in Montgomery, Alabama, created in 1989, and the Women’s Table at Yale University, completed in 1993. In 2021, Lin presented her acclaimed public installation Ghost Forest, which comprised 49 towering Atlantic white cedar trees, in New York’s Madison Square Park. The artist, who was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by US President Barack Obama in 2016, has been commissioned to create a sculpture for the Obama Presidential Center in Chicago, expected to open in 2025. Most recently, she was chosen to design a new performing arts studio building for the Fisher Center at Bard College in New York state. In 2022, TIME magazine named Lin one of the year’s most influential people.
Lin’s upcoming exhibition at Pace’s Seoul arts complex will feature several of her sculptural, topographical studies of rivers, which she began producing in 2007 as meditations on the ways that natural resources defy and transcend human constructs—namely, imposed borders separating nations and states. The artist’s understated but deeply resonant sculptures of water and bodies of water merge the past and present, situating the climate crisis within the arc of natural history. Lin’s show in Seoul will include her new recycled silver work Silver Tigris & Euphrates Watershed (2022) alongside Pin Gang - Imjin and Han (2022), created with stainless steel pins, and the glass marble piece Marble Han River Dam (2022), both of which center on the movements and makeup of the Han River, an important body of water in Korea. These sculptures, whose materials mimic the visual and textural traits of water, reflect the delicacy of line drawing in their elegant and elaborate contours. Lin’s sculptural rivers also exemplify her ability to experiment with and use varied media in her work. Among the other works in the presentation are Dew Point 8 (2007), a lyrical blown glass sculpture, and 52 Ways to See the Ocean (2008), a Richlite sculpture that seems to undulate and shapeshift as viewers navigate around it. Lin brings questions of scarcity, accessibility, and climatic precarity to the fore of these dynamic sculptures, which will be displayed across the gallery’s walls and floors.

Maya Lin (b. 1959, Athens, Ohio) acclaimed work encompasses large-scale environmental installations, intimate studio artworks, architectural projects and memorials. Her artwork interprets the world through a twenty-first century lens, utilizing technological methods to study and visualize the natural environment. In her sculpture and drawing, Lin merges rational order with notions of beauty. Blurring boundaries between two- and three-dimensional space, Lin sets up a systematic ordering of the landscape tied to history, time, science and language.

Her numerous awards include receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Nation’s highest civilian honor, in 2016 from President Barack Obama, the 2009 National Medal of the Arts conferred by President Obama and the 2014 Gish Prize for her contributions to art and social change. She is at work on her final memorial, What is Missing?, raising awareness about habitat loss and biodiversity.

Lin’s work is held in numerous public collections worldwide, including the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Columbus Museum of Art; Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, Ohio; The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City; Minneapolis Institute of Art; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, Virginia; National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa; Phoenix Art Museum, Arizona; Nevada Museum of Art, Reno; Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego; Toledo Museum of Art; Colby Museum of Art, Waterville, Maine; National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; and Cornell Fine Arts Museum at Rollins College, Winter Park, Florida, among others.

The artist is also working on a permanent installation, An Ecological Primer, at Oberlin College, where one of three proposed elements has already been installed. Maya Lin: Systematic Landscapes, organized by the Henry Art Gallery at the University of Washington, Seattle, traveled to Contemporary Art Museum, St. Louis; Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego; de Young Museum, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco; and Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. (2006–09). In 2009, three major works from the traveling exhibition were presented in Maya Lin: Three Ways of Looking at the Earth, Selections from Systematic Landscapes at Pace, New York. Lin has been the subject of exhibitions at venues including Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh (2012); Dayton Art Institute (2012); Parrish Art Museum, Water Mill, New York (2014); Nevada Museum of Art, Reno (2014); Ivorypress Art and Bookspace, Madrid (2014); and Orlando Museum of Art (2015).

Lin has been commissioned to create major art and earth works by organizations around the world. A selection of her earth works include Eleven Minute Line (2004) at Wanås Foundation, Wanås, Sweden; Storm King Wavefield (2009) at Storm King Art Center, Mountainville, New York; and A Fold in the Field (2013) at Gibbs Farm, Kaipara Harbour, New Zealand, among others.

Notable art commissions include Women’s Table (1993) for Yale University, New Haven; Above and Below (2007) for the Indianapolis Museum of Art; Pin River – Yangtze (2007) for the American Embassy in Beijing; Where the Land Meets the Sea (2008) and What is Missing? (2009) for the California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco; and Colorado River (2009) for Aria Resort & Casino, Las Vegas, among others. Committed to advocating sustainable design solutions in all her works, Lin’s architectural projects include Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research in Cambridge, Massachusetts (2015); the Museum for Chinese in America in New York City (2009); the Riggio-Lynch Interfaith Chapel in Clinton, Tennessee (2004); and Langston Hughes Library in Clinton, Tennessee (1999). Recently, the construction for her redesign of the Neilson Library at Smith College was completed in 2021. Holding degrees from Yale and the Yale School of Architecture, Lin’s architectural designs create a close dialogue between the landscape and built environment.

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