Maya Lin: A River Is a Drawing

October 12, 2018–January 20, 2019

“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.” —Maya Lin

Exhibition catalog

A recipient of the 2016 Presidential Medal of Freedom for her outstanding contributions as an artist, architect, and environmental activist, Maya Lin (born 1959) sees and interprets the natural world through art, science, history, and culture. Maya Lin: A River Is a Drawing is a groundbreaking exhibition developed in close collaboration between the HRM and this visionary artist, focusing on the theme of the Hudson River. With the Museum’s architectural features and location along the banks of the river as a potent backdrop, Lin will create a series of new works and ambitious site-specific installations that invite visitors to interact.

The exhibition presents twelve works, with continuous focus on bodies of water, particularly the Hudson River. It begins in the lobby space with Pin River—Hudson Watershed, 2018, one of the largest in the series of her pin-river sculptures to date, composed of more than 20,000 pins. In the Museum’s Courtyard, Reed River, 2018, an immersive installation is created from more than 200 bamboo reeds in the form of a 3D drawing of the Hudson River basin. Another outdoor installation, Concrete River, 2018, is on HRM’s veranda and overhang looking out to the river vista. The piece connects existing cracks, holes, bumps on the grounds, by filling them in with painted silver lines, visually connecting the Museum’s campus to the river.

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Continuing to the indoor space and responding to the HRM’s Brutalist building features, The Hudson Bight, 2018, an augmented seafloor map of the Hudson Canyona submarine canyon created by the glacial change at the end of the last Ice Agecascades through the Atrium, a 30-foot installation with contours drawn with webbing wires. In the adjacent gallery, a flood of approximately 22,000 pale blue-green industrial glass marbles takes on a shape of the grand Hudson River basin in Folding the Hudson, 2018. The marbles follow and defy natural gravity and spread throughout the floor, the walls, and the ceiling. The exhibition includes new drawings on paper that magnify points of interest in various waterways around New York as well as 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?, Maya Lin’s ongoing interactive digital art project and environmental advocacy movement ( A darkened gallery is dedicated to the multi-channel video projection,

What Is Missing?Hudson River Timeline, is a moving timeline composed of text and images narrating habitat changes and population fluctuations of various species in and around the Hudson River throughout history up to the present. As we experience effects of climate change with increasing frequency and intensity, it is urgent to become aware of what happened in the environment before and what is happening to it now. The exhibition gives form to the macrocosmic workings of nature, as embodied in the Hudson River, and brings its presence in an affective, human scale.

To complement Maya Lin: A River Is a Drawing, there is an exhibition catalog (now available in the Museum Shop) and a full menu of interdisciplinary programming. Visitors of all ages and backgrounds are invited to explore and engage with Lin’s visual interpretations of the world in which we live, the macrocosmic presence of nature, and the impact of our human role within it. Programs will include an artist lecture with Maya Lin, a Gallery Tour with Guest Curator Miwako Tezuka, and Sunday Scholar Series lectures with leading art historians and environmental historians and advocates. The Museum will also be partnering with a variety of organizations such as Riverkeeper, Wave Hill, Alamo Drafthouse Cinema-Yonkers, WE ACT for Environmental Justice, and the Center for the Urban River at Beczak (Sarah Lawrence College) on education programs and art, design, and environmental activities.

The exhibition is organized by the Hudson River Museum and curated by Miwako Tezuka.


Major sponsorship is made possible by generous grants from Bloomberg Philanthropies and The Mr. and Mrs. Raymond J. Horowitz Foundation for the Arts.Lead sponsorship is provided by Louise and Leonard Riggio.

Lead sponsorship for the exhibition, as well as annual STEM-based school programming, is provided by Con Edison.

Exhibition programs are supported by Wells Fargo and the WLS Spencer Foundation.

Sponsorship is provided by Ginsburg Development Companies and Rockefeller Brothers Fund.

Support for the exhibition catalog is provided by Pace Gallery. Additional support is provided by LPE Engineering PC, Kevin Luke, The Lunder Foundation, Thierry Porté, VPL, and the Stanley Family Fund.

The Teaching Artist-in-Residence for Maya Lin: A River Is a Drawing is Jim Keyes. Learn more about the Residency Program here.

Maya Lin. Folding the Hudson, 2018. Glass marbles, adhesive. Courtesy the artist. Photo: Kris Graves.

Selected Press

Maya Lin Keeps Breaking New Ground Wall Street Journal (October 31, 2021) ↗

"...the restrained beauty of her art is matched by the power of her message."

Goings On About Town The New Yorker ↗
A Trip to the Hudson River Museum to Explore the Site-Specific Exhibition Maya Lin: A River is a Drawing NYC-ARTS Season 2018 Episode 420 (December 6, 2018) ↗

"Maya Lin builds a deeply political environmental installation that surrounds visitors."

Maya Lin Captures the Hudson's Beauty and Power New York Times (October 25, 2018) ↗

"My works will always be trying to reveal truths and facts about our world." —Maya Lin

The Lauded Designer of the Vietnam War Memorial Brings Her Art to the Valley Hudson Valley Magazine (October 2018) ↗

"A multimedia exhibit . . . that offers a multifaceted approach not only to the River that Flows Both Ways, as native peoples called the Hudson, but to the museum itself."

A River Runs Through Her WAG Magazine (October 2018) ↗

". . . one of the most incredible art installations the county has yet seen."

The 8 Best Things to Do in Westchester This October Westchester Magazine (October 2018) ↗