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Home BLOGS So Hot Right Now Systematic Landscapes

Systematic Landscapes
Written by Noah Hanson   
Tuesday, 25 April 2006 07:54
Maya Lin's "Systematic Landscapes" exhibition over at the Henry Art Gallery in Seattle. She's best known for her Vietnam Veterans Memorial in DC.

This last week the Henry Art Gallery finally revealed it's new show of artwork by artist and architect, Maya Lin. Maya is best known for her design of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. which she made as an undergraduate at Yale in 1982. Since then, Maya has been exploring with making pieces heavily influenced by naturally occurring phenomena, such as geology, landscape, and natural earth formations. It seems to me that she usually concentrates her efforts on large-scale outdoor works, such as parks and memorials, so her new show, kept indoors at the Henry, ironically struck me as somthing a little fresher.

The show consists of many small works, but also 3 large-scale installations, each filling their own entire room. The main attraction of the show is titled 2X4 Landscape, made up of approx. 65,000 boards set on end, and is 36’ x 53’ x 10’.

2X4-landscape.jpg

2X4-landscape-2.jpg

2X4-landscape-3.jpg

2X4-landscape-4.jpg

Maya Lin's 2x4 Landscape will be available for interaction (you get to walk on it) on Thursday, May 4 from 5–7 PM. Registration is required, limited to ten participants at any given time. Registration must be in person and will be accepted on Thursday, May 4 from 11 AM–4 PM at the Admissions Desk. There are only 80 slots available and entry to the landscape will be first come, first served. You'll also be asked to sign a waiver as well as put on some special shoes to minimize harm done to the artwork. Unfortunately, people will have to keep off the incline to ensure no one breaks their neck. Phooey.

Even though I was given a press badge for the event, I wasn't supposed to photograph everything I saw. In fact, Betsey, the woman in charge of giving me my press privalges, was very clear in her e-mail that I needed to be very well behaved and that I needed to "... follow the rules explicity. Please. OK?" These two pictures down below came along with the press kit I was given, which is a good thing because I didn't photograph the pieces while I was at the show. There were three in all and were all part of Maya's "Atlas Landscape" series.

atlas-2-sm.jpg

atlas-2-detail.jpg

To make these, Maya bought some world atlases and cut into them using an exacto-knife. Pretty simple. Also, there's actually a small portion of an interview on the Art:21 series PBS put out a few years ago, where during a conversation, Maya is cutting away on these guys. I think there might be a bit more of an explanation on there if you're interested ...

This here was the 2nd of the major installation pieces. These first two pictures down below came with the press kit I mentioned earlier, and show the original model and early construction stages of what would become "Blue Lake Pass."

blue-lake-pass-model.jpg

If these things weren't hollow, they'd prolly weigh like 700 lbs. each, or something.

blue-lake-pass-in-progress.jpg

The blocks are all made of Duraflake particleboard, and each block is 3’x 3’ (20 blocks total), 18’x 23’overall. Apparently, when the blocks are all shoved back together, it's a topographic translation of an actual mountain range.

blue-lake-pass-above.jpg

Call me crazy, but I thought they had a really nice blonde color to them. They'd also prolly make for a fun quick game of hide and seek/tag for little kids.

blue-lake-pass-2.jpg

blue-lake-pass.jpg

This seemed a bit silly, but it's supposed to me a 15’ x 16’8" model of the Columbia River made entirely of pins stuck in a wall.

pin-river.jpg

Pin-River-detail.jpg

These I liked though. They are from another series of three called "Bodies of Water" and are made of Baltic birch plywood. Each shows the depth and water volumes of various inland seas, such as the Caspian and Red Seas down below.

Bodies-of-Water-Series-2.jpg

Bodies-of-Water-Series-1.jpg

Here's another one I don't think I can quite grasp... They're supposed to be plaster reliefs of imagined landscapes embedded straight to the wall. They actually seem a bit hokey to me, and remind me of a time in middle school when, out of anger, I kicked a hole in my bedroom wall. To avoid conflict, I tried patching the wall myself and never told my parents about it. My spackle job looked very similar.

plaster-2.jpg

plaster-3.jpg

plaster-4.jpg

Another weird series I'm not so sure about. Maya Lin talked about these at a lecture she gave the night before the opening, and mentioned that she was interested in the power and individuality of a singular line. She showed a slide show of different parks she designed all over the world in which she modified the land to be raised up like the picture below. I found them to be a lot more impressive than the 11” x 17” x 2” cast bronze versions of the same thing. Still, maybe these were just early ideas and models for what became the parks.

Sketch-Tablet.jpg

There were a quite a few other things in the show, but this last one I have to show you is of Maya's last huge installation, "Water Line." It's made of painted aluminum tubing measuring 34’10” x 29’2” x 19’, and can be walked under or looked at from above. Similar to her other pieces, it is a topographic surface based on an undersea formation.

water-line.jpg

During my visit, this was the first thing I was able to photograph using my first ever press badge. About six times or so while I was taking pictures, different members of the Henry staff pounced on me to let me know photography was NOT permitted. Flashing the badge was an interesting experience since I've always had to go undercover in the past. It was kind of fun in a weird way, but it also made me feel over-privileged and like I was working instead of casually preparing stuff for my blog ... Hopefully people will decide to keep giving me special passes and I'll get used to the feeling. Also, mentioned on the list of rules I was given on how to behave, I was told I had to ask everyone included in my photos if it was okay with them. I did happen to see Maya at the show, but decided to lay off and to forget about trying to get a photo. She seemed kinda busy and was always talking to three people at once anyway.

water-line-1-above.jpg

water-line-up-and-over.jpg

water-line-above.jpg

All in all, the show was a pretty good success. It was booming with rich old people, quite a few yuppies, and even a few youngsters. I definitely had a good time at the show, sorta wandering around by myself, checking out the stuff. The lecture Maya gave the night before over at UW was interesting too, although the projection could have been WAY better. Thanks to Betsey Brock, the Communications and Outreach Manager (AKA press manager) for giving me all the free access and all the hook-ups. I should also mention that Richard Andrews is the Director of the Henry Art Gallery, and that he curated the whole thing. I think I remember him being introduced at the lecture hall as a "fearless hero," which I thought had to have been an overstatement, but thanks to him just the same.

Also, just so you know, the show runs April 22 – September 3, 2006, and the day to go walk around the 2X4 installation is May 4th. Thursdays are free, but every other day you gotta shell out $10 for general admission. Also, keep in mind that the gallery is closed on Mondays. Oh yeah, there's also a really interesting show on the other end of the gallery of Roy Lichtenstein's prints from 1956-1997.

Roy-Lichtenstein.jpg

Yes, that's Chinese Chairman, Mao Zedong in the backround...
Anyone interested in comics or that super bizarre 80's pop art movement that went on would prolly enjoy the show. I really wish I could have made it out to that opening too, cuz I prolly could have written up something neat for it. There's some really cool pictures of living rooms that some how manage to show a ton of depth using the flattest imagery possible. I dunno. Just go check it out. You'll be surprised at how well Maya is able to alter the Henry's space, and at how well Roy is able to create space out of near nothing.

{moscomment}

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IMG_9585_sm

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ABOUT HEADLANDS
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For some reason I thought it would be a good idea to quit my job, move out of my house, leave everything and travel again. So on August 21, 2013 I pushed a canoe packed full of gear into the headwaters of the Mississippi River in Lake Itasca, Minnesota, along with four of my best friends. Exactly 100 days later, I arrived at a marina near the Gulf of Mexico in a sailboat.


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