Maya Lin's ecologically focused work on view in exclusive exhibition at Virginia MOCA
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Maya Lin's ecologically focused work on view in exclusive exhibition at Virginia MOCA
Maya Lin, Marble Chesapeake & Delaware Bay, 2022. Glass marbles and adhesive. Photo by Kerry Ryan McFate. Courtesy of Pace Gallery.

VIRGINIA BEACH, VA.- Water has always been an important subject of Maya Lin’s environmentally focused artistic practice. The legendary American artist, designer and activist often represents water as both pathway and boundary, calling forth the implications of its necessity, accessibility, scarcity and abundance. This spring and summer the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art presents several new works by Lin responding to the Chesapeake Bay watershed, complemented by other water-related works by the artist, in Maya Lin: A Study of Water. The exhibition not only invites discovery, but also encourages contemplation about the many ways in which we need water and manage its powerful bearings on our environment.

Organized by Virginia MOCA and guest curated by Melissa Messina, Maya Lin: A Study of Water will only be on view in Virginia Beach. The exhibition is free.

“Located at the crossroads of the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art and the Virginia Beach community are ideally situated to undertake this thematic project with Maya Lin,” said Virginia MOCA Director and CEO Gary Ryan. “Our region and the entire world are at a critical environmental inflection point, which Maya Lin’s articulate work helps us to process and understand.”

Maya Lin: A Study of Water embodies Lin’s experiential use of scale, poetic use of common materials and process of mapping as a conceptual framework — what she describes as “revealing things we may not be thinking about.” This mapping, which visualizes water’s natural and manmade contour, rise, ebb, flow, thaw and evaporation, also elicits a sense of time and balance. In this way Maya Lin connects history — both ancient and recent — to the urgency of today’s climate crisis.

Drawn from Lin’s multidecade career, the works in Maya Lin: A Study of Water evoke water’s many forms and patterns, including rivers and their rise, oceans and their tides, and icebergs and the detriment their melting poses. Created with artistic intuition and scientific research, Lin’s works are compelling in both their beauty and their myriad meanings.

The exhibition centers on a new site-responsive sculpture Marble Chesapeake & Delaware Bay (2022), a breathtaking configuration of glass marbles that maps the Chesapeake’s waterways onto the walls and floor of the gallery. Silver Chesapeake (2009), Lin’s recycled silver wall sculpture, will be presented to further manifest the artist’s formal and conceptual considerations of the region’s waterscapes. These works anchor a selection of additional sculptural representations of water by Lin in various media.

“Maya Lin’s insightful and unforgettable works address some of the most important issues facing us all today and are particularly poignant for Virginia MOCA, which is part of the Chesapeake Bay and Delaware Bay regions,” said guest curator Melissa Messina.

One of the most renowned visual artists of our time, Maya Lin is the recipient of the National Medal of Arts (2009) and the Presidential Medal of Freedom (2016). Throughout her 40-year career melding fine art, architecture and design, Maya Lin has connected themes of the environment, memory, loss and advocacy. After completing the Vietnam Veterans Memorial (1982), the Civil Rights Memorial (1989) in Montgomery, Alabama, and the Women’s Table (1993) at Yale University, Lin turned her creative attention to a range of art and design projects. Among Maya Lin’s notable site-specific sculptures, earthworks and architecture projects are Ghost Forest (2021), an installation in Madison Square Park, New York; the Neilson Library at Smith College (2021), Northampton, Massachusetts; Museum of Chinese in America (2009) in New York; and Storm King Wavefield (2009) at Storm King Art Center, New Windsor, New York.

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