The Hudson River Museum Presents Maya Lin: A River Is a Drawing

An Immersive, Site-Specific Exhibition that Explores the Geology and Topography of the Hudson River and the Effects of Climate Change
October 12, 2018 – January 20, 2019

Press images can be downloaded here.

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 will explore nature’s lasting power and reveal its fragility through Maya Lin’s unique language of art.

The acclaimed artist and designer will present 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 will be 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 will be presented in seven sections, with continuous focus on bodies of water, particularly the Hudson River. The exhibition will begin in the lobby space with one of Maya Lin’s signature use of material, stainless steel pins. Pin River—Hudson Watershed will be 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 will create 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 will be staked into the ground creating a complex and moving drawing. This large-scale work will invite visitors to walk through the installation, becoming physically part of the landscape.

The second section will be situated on the grounds of HRM’s veranda and overhang looking out to the river vista. Lin will draw 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 will install an augmented seafloor map of the Hudson Canyon with contours drawn with webbing wires, a 35-foot piece that will cascade through the Atrium. It will echo 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 will be 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 will create The River of Marbles, a flood of pale blue-green industrial glass marbles that will take on a shape of the grand Hudson River basin. The approximately 50,000 recycled marbles will 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 will also include 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 will be 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 (http://whatismissing.net). A darkened gallery will be dedicated to a multi-channel video projection, Map of Memory: Hudson River Timeline, developed as part of this advocacy movement. The moving timeline will be 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 will be 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.”

Miwako Tezuka, guest curator

Miwako Tezuka is a modern and contemporary Asian art specialist with a focus on Japan and is consulting curator at Arakawa and Madeline Gins’ Reversible Destiny Foundation, New York.

Dr. Tezuka previously served as director of Japan Society Gallery, New York, and curator at Asia Society Museum, New York, and is currently an independent curator and scholar. She has organized numerous exhibitions, including Points of Departure: Treasures of Japan from the Brooklyn Museum (2014), Rebirth: Recent Work by Mariko Mori (2013), and Yoshitomo Nara: Nobody’s Fool (2010).

Catalog

The exhibition will be accompanied by a catalog, which will feature documentation of Maya Lin’s artistic process and the completed, site-specific pieces within the Museum. It will include an essay by guest curator Miwako Tezuka; a newly commissioned essay by Peter Boswell; an independent curator and arts writer, and a foreword by Director Masha Turchinsky. The catalog is supported, in part, by Pace Gallery.

Related Programs

To complement Maya Lin: A River Is a Drawing, the Museum will offer a full menu of interdisciplinary programming. Visitors of all ages and backgrounds will be invited to explore and engage with Maya 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, a partnership with Riverkeeper, and a Film Series that will present different perspectives on the challenges posed by climate change presented in partnership with Alamo Drafthouse Cinema-Yonkers. In addition, a Sunday Scholar Lecture Series will include discussions with leading environmental historians and advocates including: Jeffrey Sachs, world-renowned professor of economics, leader in sustainable development, and Director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University; Karenna Gore, Director of the Center for Earth Ethics at Union Theological Seminary; Lee Bitsoi, Chief Diversity Officer, and bioethicist, Stony Brook University; and Peggy Shepard, co-founder and executive director of WE ACT For Environmental Justice.

Select Programs:

Sat, Oct 13, 1–4pm
The Hudson River Up Close: Kayaking Sponsored by the Yonkers Paddling & Rowing Club

Learn kayaking basics from experienced guides in the cove at JFK Marina next to the Hudson River Museum. Ages 6+; no experience is required. Sponsored by the Yonkers Paddling and Rowing Club. Rain date, Sun, Oct. 14.

Sun, Oct 14, 2pm
Curator’s Tour of Maya Lin: A River Is a Drawing with Miwako Tezuka

Get an in-depth look at Maya Lin: A River Is a Drawing with Guest Curator Miwako Tezuka who will guide you through the artist’s site-specific installations in a variety of media, from bamboo reeds to glass industrial marbles, all created in response to the Hudson River.

Wed, Oct 17, 1:30pm
Citizen Science: Cleaning Up Our Waterway

Dan Shapley, Water Quality Program Director, Riverkeeper, talks about the grassroots foundations of the Riverkeeper movement and its mission. Riverkeeper and dozens of community scientists are working to restore and protect our local waterways. Learn how this data is collected and ways you can contribute to improving water quality.

Wed, Oct 17, 6:30-8pm
An Evening with Maya Lin

Join featured artist Maya Lin for a lecture and discussion about her exhibition Maya Lin: A River Is a Drawing, how and why it came to be in the context of her commitment to environmental issues, and her uniquely aesthetic approach to data visualization in her sculptures, installations, land art, monuments, and architectural work. Tickets: $15; members $10; students $5 (valid ID required); refreshments will be served.

Sun, Oct 21, 12-5pm
The Ecology of Community: A Day for All Ages

Celebrate the planet with a day of fun, environmentally-conscious activities! Join in to make a large-scale, mixed-media river out of art and natural materials in Street Art with artist Antony Zito; create recycled fashion with artist Lana Yu; move to music by the Caribbean group Praise in Steel Orchestra, whose instruments are recycled industrial drums; and watch Youth Theatre Interactions perform a Riverdance.

Sun, Nov 4, 2pm
Building Healthy Communities, Changing Environmental Racism

Peggy Shepard, co-founder and executive director of WE ACT For Environmental Justice, located in West Harlem, talks about environmental racism, climate change, and food justice and how her organization empowers and organizes low-income people of color to build healthy communities for all.

Thurs, Nov 8, 7pm
An Inconvenient Truth

Our film series, inspired by Maya Lin’s commitment to saving the planet, begins with this 2006 Oscar-winning documentary starring former Vice President Al Gore and directed by Davis Guggenheim, that raised public awareness of global warming around the world and reenergized the environmental movement. Sponsored by HRM and Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, Yonkers.

Wed, November 14, 1:30pm
Gender, Water, and Human Rights 
In recognition of the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Marcia Brewster, former Senior Officer for Water Resources at the United Nations Division for Sustainable Development, describes the important role women play in the conservation and protection of water resources management at the global level. Framing access to water and sanitation as a human rights issue she will also encourage each of us to take on a water stewardship role in our own communities.

Sun, Nov 18, 2pm
Sunday Scholars—The Hudson as Life Force
Paul Gallay, President of Riverkeeper, moderates a panel of four distinguished thinkers as they examine the Hudson River as material and metaphor. They will look at how we experience America’s First River, our personal relationship to it, how we have changed it, and how it has, in turn, changed us. Panelists include: Karenna Gore, Director of the Center for Earth Ethics at Union Theological Seminary; John Waldman, author of Running Silver: Restoring Atlantic Rivers and their Great Fish Migrations; David Schuyler, author of Embattled River, The Hudson River and Modern American Environmentalism; and Lee Bitsoi, Chief Diversity Officer, and bioethicist, Stony Brook University. Free with Museum admission; RSVP required.
The exhibition will be featured on the Museum’s website, and on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter using the hashtags #HRMMayaLin #MayaLin

Sponsorship

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.