Princeton Alumni Weekly, January 8, 2020
New Commission by Internationally Acclaimed Maya Lin at Princeton University
Distributed June 7, 2018
PRINCETON, N.J. – A monumental new two-part commission by the internationally acclaimed artist Maya Lin has been commissioned to enhance the grounds adjacent to the new Lewis Center for the Arts Complex at Princeton University. A continuation of a series of recent works referred to by the artist as Earth Drawings, Princeton University’s installation will provide an invigorated outdoor setting that invites visitors to explore the undulating spaces created by the mounded earth with the expectation that students will use these spaces for ad hoc performances and plein air classes.
Installation of the earthwork began in April 2018 on the slope that extends from the Lewis Arts Complex toward Baker Green. Other earthworks of this type by Lin include the Eleven Minute Line (2004) at the Wanås Foundation in Knislinge, Sweden, and the Kentucky Line (2008) in Louisville, Kentucky. This will be the first Earth Drawing installed in a public space in the United States.
“By making a work in which she shapes and draws a line in the earth, together with the most abstract of her water tables to date, I am certain that Maya will make a lasting and engaging mark on our campus,” said James Steward, Nancy A. Nasher–David J. Haemisegger, Class of 1976, director of the Princeton University Art Museum.
The second component of the Maya Lin commission is a granite water table with a base crafted to form an oblate spheroid. The fountain will be installed in October, situated within a gravel plaza that appears to float above the ground plane of the side facing the new arts compound while incorporating concrete edge seating along the back. The fountain’s veil of water will be wispy as it falls from the 12-foot-long tabletop made of jet mist granite. The table’s elliptical shape, inspired by diagrammatic drawings of the Earth's orbit around the sun; the water weir, inspired by the notion of a black hole; and the jet mist granite, which has a white, almost starry patterning, all come together to help “reflect the galaxy” – an allusion to the work of Princeton’s most-acclaimed resident, Albert Einstein. Precedents for the Princeton water table can be found at Yale and Brown Universities.
“As a site-specific artist, having the chance to create two works in dialogue with one another that respond to the cultural context in which they are placed and allow me to explore two distinct aspects of my work is a unique and challenging opportunity,” said Lin. “With the earthwork, the "Princeton Line," being an exploration of a drawing on an angled plane that walks you down a steep slope, and the more formal water table which returns the form to where it originated. Scott Burton's piece Public Table was the inspiration for my very first water table, the Civil Rights Memorial – and now I can come full circle with this new work.”
A 2016 recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Lin first achieved national recognition for her design for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC, while she was still an undergraduate at Yale University when her design was chosen in a national competition. During the course of her remarkable interdisciplinary career, Lin has created a powerful and highly influential body of work that includes large-scale site-specific installations, intimate studio artworks, architectural works and memorials.
Lin received her Bachelor of Arts from Yale University in 1981 and a Master of Arts in architecture from Yale in 1986 and has maintained a professional studio in New York City since then. She currently serves on the boards of the Bloomberg Foundation and the What is Missing? Foundation. Lin is a former member of the Museum of Chinese in America, Yale Corporation, the National Resources Defense Council and the Energy Foundation. She lives in New York City with her husband, Daniel Wolf, and their two children. She is represented by Pace Gallery.
About Campus Art at Princeton
Princeton University boasts one of the most significant public art collections in the United States, with masterworks by more than 50 major artists, such as Henry Moore, Alexander Calder, Louise Nevelson, Isamu Noguchi, David Smith, Tony Smith, Michele Oka Doner, Frank Gehry, Gaston Lachaise, Jacques Lipchitz, Antoine Pevsner, Pablo Picasso, George Rickey, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, George Segal, Louis Comfort Tiffany and Richard Serra. A campus art initiative – launched in 2008 to expand the University’s collection of historical campus art with commissions by living artists – is currently undertaking numerous commissions and loans and has brought to campus works by artists such as Shahzia Sikander, Doug and Mike Starn, Ursula von Rydingsvard, Sol LeWitt, Odili Donald Odita, Kendall Buster, Jim Isermann and Beverly Pepper.
About the Princeton University Art Museum
With a collecting history that extends back to the 1750s, the Princeton University Art Museum is one of the leading university art museums in the country, with collections that have grown to include over 100,000 works of art ranging from ancient to contemporary art and spanning the globe.
Committed to advancing Princeton’s teaching and research missions, the Art Museum also serves as a gateway to the University for visitors from around the world. Intimate in scale yet expansive in scope, the Museum offers a respite from the rush of daily life, a revitalizing experience of extraordinary works of art and an opportunity to delve deeply into the study of art and culture.
The Princeton University Art Museum is located at the heart of the Princeton campus, a short walk from the shops and restaurants of Nassau Street. Admission is free. Museum hours are Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Thursday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; and Sunday 12 to 5 p.m. The Museum is closed Mondays and major holidays.
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