Environment Is Maya Lin's Latest Muse

Her final public memorial focuses on extinct and vanishing species and is aptly titled "What Is Missing?"

"It is a multi-sited artwork dedicated to bringing awareness to the current crisis surrounding biodiversity and habitat loss," said Lin.

It comprises a permanent sculptural installation, "The Listening Cone," based at the California Academy of Sciences, a continually updated Web site, a book and a touring show called "The Dark Room" in which viewers can look at environmental video messages from floor projectors on portable glass screens.

"The Dark Room" can currently be seen in Manhattan at Salon 94, a private Upper East Side art gallery, which is also hosting Lin's show "Recycled Landscapes." According to Lin, this is her "first show of small-scaled works in a gallery," which is owned by her friend Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn.

"I got obsessed with garbage and started accumulating FedEx boxes," she explained, and her obsession resulted in FedEx World, one of her freestanding cardboard landscapes that are part of the exhibit.

The exhibition centers on eight "asteroids," as Lin calls them. Two are made from recycled tempered glass, three of recycled gumball containers, one of bottle caps and the last two are made of plastic toys. The smaller and mainly pink one is called "Toy Asteroid: Girl" and comprises the broken toys of Lin's two daughters, India and Rachel.

When it came time to make 'Toy Asteroid: Boy," Lin called her "mom friends including Jeanne" and asked for their sons' old toys.

"They have to be broken otherwise we would have donated them," emphasized Lin.

This call for toys led to many conversations with Jeanne about hosting an exhibit of Lin's small-scale sculptural work, which would focus on natural landscapes and environmental sustainability.

"We are burying ourselves in garbage. We should be buying only reclaimed paper for toilet paper. We should not cut down any old growth trees to make toilet paper. There is no excuse. One in four mammals is in danger of extinction because of habitat loss. We as individuals can make a huge difference. We can effect change," said Lin passionately.

As a result, Lin says 10 percent of the profits from the sales from "Recycled Landscapes" will be donated to her What is Missing Foundation.

"Recycled Landscapes" should be seen together with Lin's "Three Ways of looking at the Earth," which is the artist's first solo exhibition at PaceWildenstein gallery in New York. The latter is a large scale exhibit, which according to Lin, "developed from bringing my outdoors landscape works indoors."

It features three different topographies -- two real and one imagined. Her "2 x 4 Landscape" is a hill made of 50,000 vertical 2-by-4-inch pieces of Sustainable Forestry Initiative wood, which took one year to make.

"It takes one month to install and one month to deinstall," explained Lin, "so it can only be shown twice a year.

"Water Line" maps the ocean floor along the mid-Atlantic ridge as it ascends to Bouvet Island near Antarctica. "It's made of bent aluminum," said Lin and is suspended to allow visitors to walk underneath it.

"Blue Lake Pass" is a 3-D rendition of a mountainous terrain in Colorado, where Lin's family spends their summers.

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