Storm King Wavefield

P.O. Box 280, Old Pleasant Hill Road
Mountainville, NY
10953

Storm King Wavefield

Eco LandscapingPark/Recreation AreaArt SpotEco-Tour/Nature WalkPedestrian FriendlyScenic VistaEcotourism Resource

Overview

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Storm King Wavefield is a pastoral, mesmerizing work that encourages active viewer participation. Inspired by studies of naturally occurring wave formations, which Lin has abstracted, the sculpture evokes a tension between movement and stasis. Over the course of creating the work, the artist visited the Art Center on numerous occasions, walking the terrain and drawing inspiration from the natural “galleries” defined by tree-lines, meadows, woodland, sky, and mountains. The site she selected is located in a secluded area of the southwestern part of the sculpture park.

Storm King Director and Curator David Collens notes, “Maya Lin has created a magnificent addition to the Art Center’s collection of post-war sculpture, one that establishes an engaging dialogue with other works. In addition, she produced the wavefield in the most environmentally sensitive manner, beginning with materials that were already on site and adding only topsoil and low-impact grasses.”

Using the concept of fluid dynamics and applying sophisticated cartographic methods of measurement, Ms. Lin meticulously translated the scale, pacing, and pattern of mid-sea waves into gravel, earth, and grass. Each of the “waves” measures between 305 and 368 feet in length and, with the grasses, rises to a height of between ten and fifteen feet. Walking through the wavefield is akin to being amid large swells at sea: One may temporarily lose visual contact with adjacent waves and the horizon, or rise to the crest and see for miles. As with other artworks at Storm King, the experience of the wavefield will change with each visit, depending on the season, the weather, and the time of day.

Working in close coordination with the New York State Department of Environmental
Conservation and with landscape architects Edwina von Gal and Darrel Morrison, Ms. Lin utilized the gravel at the site to create the underlying structure of Storm King Wavefield. This was then covered in topsoil, which in turn was planted with grasses including Creeping Red Fescus, Deertongue Grass, Canada Bluegrass, Sideoats Grama Grass, and Partridge Pea, creating a natural drainage system. In addition, she kept track of her travels to and from the site, as well as the energy used by the contractors who executed the work; as a final stage in the process, Storm King and Ms. Lin are formulating a plan to plant indigenous trees around the periphery of the eleven-acre site to help offset the calculated carbon footprint generated by the production of the work.

Halina Duda, of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, notes, “It has been a joy to watch Storm King Wavefield develop. So often, the reclamation of mines, like the former gravel pit on Storm King’s grounds, simply entails adding a layer of topsoil and vegetation. In contrast, Storm King and Maya Lin have gone so much further: Ms. Lin has not only created a wonderful work of art, but has also undertaken an important environmental project. The State Department of Environmental Conservation is grateful to her and to Storm King for transforming a depleted mine into something beautiful.

Maya Lin: Artist and Environmentalist
Maya Lin designs sculpture, earthworks, and public places that invite viewers to examine and connect anew with their natural surroundings. Her lifelong interest in landscape and the environment has led to the creation of three-dimensional works that are influenced by natural topographies and geology, as well as by ice floes; water patterns, such as those embodied by Storm King Wavefield; solar eclipses; and aerial views of the planet. Working in the tradition of the monumental earthworks created in the 1960s and 1970s by such artists as Robert Smithson and Michael Heizer, Ms. Lin brings a contemporary perspective to the theme of land- and seascape and the environment by merging the rational order of technology with the organic and irregular forms of nature.

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