Maya Lin, Groundswell, 1993 | Photo Rose Marie Cromwell
Storm King Wavefield (2009), the largest in a series of wave fields by Lin interprets the movement of water, embedded in the ground. Stretching across 240,000 square feet of land in upstate New York—set against a backdrop of the Hudson Highlands and the Schunnemunk Mountain—undulating waves of grassy terrain invite us to lie or leap upon it, the sun’s shadows casting dark valleys into the landscape. With a birds eye view, we witness the magnificent scale of the work, with seven nearly 400-foot long waves swelling ten to fifteen feet high, conjuring an inescapable feeling of being lost at sea.
Lin chose the site as an environment reclamation project, applying sustainable practices to rework the formal gravel pit untouched since Storm King’s founding in 1960. By leveraging the existing gravel, adding topsoil, and introducing a natural drainage system along with low-impact grasses, Wavefield lives on as an evolving, organic work.
A committed environmentalist, Lin unveiled ‘What is Missing?’ in 2012, an ongoing project presenting the ecological history of the planet—past, present, and future— and documenting the places and species that will most likely disappear within our lifetime if not protected. Taking a multi-site, multi-form approach, the memorial exists as permanent sculptures, temporary media exhibits, and a website, whatismissing.org, unshackling the idea of a memorial from static monuments and imagining a platform for global dialogue. We are forced to feel a sense of absence, to notice things we did not realize we had already lost.