Pittsburgh's three rivers are inspiration for Maya Lin's 'Pin River'

The artist will speak here Friday, in conjunction with a Carnegie Museum exhibition of her sculptural work
February 5, 2012 12:00 am
  • Art handler Chantal Bernicky checks for uniform pin height for Maya Lin's installation "Pin River -- Ohio (Allegheny and Monongahela)," being installed at Carnegie Museum of Art.
    Art handler Chantal Bernicky checks for uniform pin height for Maya Lin's installation "Pin River -- Ohio (Allegheny and Monongahela)," being installed at Carnegie Museum of Art.
  • In her "Negative Water" series, artist Maya Lin represents the volume beneath the surface to draw attention to what we don't see, as in "Caspian Sea (Bodies of Water series)" at Carnegie Museum of Art.
    In her "Negative Water" series, artist Maya Lin represents the volume beneath the surface to draw attention to what we don't see, as in "Caspian Sea (Bodies of Water series)" at Carnegie Museum of Art.
  • Maya Lin -- "I use technology, but the mark of the human hand is so much a part of it."
    Maya Lin -- "I use technology, but the mark of the human hand is so much a part of it."
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Maya Lin entered the national consciousness in 1982 when she won a competition to design the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., while an undergraduate at Yale University. Three decades later, Ms. Lin has moved well beyond that early honor to become a globally engaged environmental advocate.

Her video "Unchopping a Tree," about deforestation, was aired at the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in 2009. Her short films about mass extinction played on the MTV HD screen in Times Square on Earth Day 2010. And a Freida Lee Mock film about her life and work, "Maya Lin: A Strong Clear Vision," won best documentary at the 1995 Academy Awards.

The Athens, Ohio, native will give a free public lecture at 6 p.m. Friday in the Carnegie Music Hall, Oakland, followed by a reception. The talk is presented in conjunction with an exhibition of her sculptural work in Carnegie Museum of Art's Heinz Architectural Center, which will remain open until 9 p.m.

Ms. Lin has created a new piece for the exhibition inspired by Pittsburgh's three rivers, "Pin River -- Ohio (Allegheny and Monongahela)." Using small, customized steel pins pushed into the gallery wall, the artist represents the Ohio's entire ragged course over approximately 15 feet. The river curves along its silvery route from its source at Pittsburgh's Point, flows south of Ms. Lin's hometown, and forms serpentine states' borders before entering the Mississippi at Cairo, Ill.

"It's the first river [of the series] that I've been able to do that goes near where I grew up," Ms. Lin said by telephone from her New York studio. She said the woods and terrain around Pittsburgh are very familiar because she'd pass the city when she drove from Athens to college in Connecticut.

Post-Gazette art critic Mary Thomas: mthomas@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1925.
First Published 2012-02-11 01:53:37
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