Queen of the Hill
Howard Halle -- Interior Design, 8/1/2006 12:00:00 AM
Although Maya Lin is best known as the designer behind the acclaimed Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., she's also a landscape artist who describes a natural world being reshaped by unnatural forces as never before. Even so, "Maya Lin: Systematic Landscapes" at Seattle's Henry Art Gallery is more poetic than didactic. "It touches on issues surrounding ecology, exploring how technology has given us new tools for looking at the landscape," Lin says. "Is that really any different from being a painter in the 18th or 19th century?"
Not terribly—judging from Lin's ability to evoke the sublime. Working with sources such as the underwater topography of the Red Sea or the Rocky Mountains outside her window in Colorado, where she summers with her family, she relies on scientific data sets and satellite maps to produce renderings that her team realizes manually. Her 2x4 Landscape, a 10-foot-tall rolling form based on hills and waves, comprises 55,000 pieces of lumber, all individually cut.
Lin's aim is not to re-create a sense of place but to conjure a state of flux between the hand-rendered and the machine-made—as well as between different sculptural scales. "It's about taking something from the outside, where it seems familiar," Lin says, "and bringing it inside, where it becomes very strange."