Lin's piece comprises seven rows of carefully scaled undulating hills, each over 300 feet long and between 12 and 15 feet high, that give the appearance of ocean waves over an 11-acre spread. They were created in what had been a gravel pit - as much of the Storm King site was before becoming a sculpture park in the 1960s, having served as a key materials resource for the building of the New York State Thruway, which can be seen from much of it.
Lin worked with local contractors - notably Gardiner excavator/farmer Frank Tantillo, owner of Tantillo's Landscape Supplies and Excavation - to make her earthworks walkable and had them landscaped to attract butterflies. She also insisted on the planting of 270 trees between her Wavefield - the third in a series that includes similar, smaller works in Michigan and Miami - and the highway, to counter the carbon impact that she made creating the monumental new work.
Born and raised in Ohio, Lin won the commission to create the Vietnam Memorial in 1982 when she was 21 and still a student at Yale, where she continued on after its success, eventually getting advanced degrees as an architect. She was first asked to create a permanent piece for Storm King - whose collection also includes massive works by Mark di Suvero and Richard Serra, Alexander Calder and Louise Nevelson, David Smith and Isamu Noguchi - eight years ago, soon after Andy Goldsworthy had finished his own Storm King Wall, 100 feet in towards the Center's main gallery spaces from Lin's piece.
"It's part of a study that started with looking at a simple water wave, and how does the wave begin or end? I was almost afraid to start it," she has said of the latest Wavefield, whose public unveiling will include Lin and her family this Saturday, May 9. "I'm very interested in exploring works that begin to own the environment."
Accompanying the new emphasis on Storm King Wavefield will be a special exhibition, "Maya Lin: Bodies of Water," on view in Storm King's museum building from this Saturday through November 15. The exhibition will feature several works that reflect the artist's interest in water in its various states, along with installation documentation, sculpture, photographs, models and drawings related to the development of the new piece. Several works also draw attention to the plight of sites around the world that suffer from human encroachment and industrial pollution, reflecting Lin's increasing presence as a leading environmentalist and proponent of the burgeoning field of EcoArt that is fast taking hold in this region as one of its global hotbeds.
Highlights of the works on view include a new piece, fabricated in recycled wood, that evokes a single wave; a work titled Pin River, comprising tens of thousands of straight pins set into the gallery wall, creating the illusion of a shadow image of the Hudson River system; and Dew Point, a series of cast-glass drops of water. The exhibition also includes a video and photographs of Lin at work. And then there's all that other great work.
For more information on all things Storm King - located south of Newburgh in Mountainville, off Route 32 - call (845) 534-3115 or visit www.stormking.org. Even better, for all things Maya Lin, and one of the coolest websites I've ever seen, visit www.mayalin.com.