Press Release

Stephanie Stone (415) 379-5121


"Where the Land Meets the Sea" is the first permanent Maya Lin work in San Francisco;
a second piece, entitled "What is Missing?" will be unveiled at the Academy in 2009

Maya Lin's Where the Land Meets the SeaSAN FRANCISO (October 24, 2008) --- San Francisco, Mayor Gavin Newsom and Luis R. Cancel, Director of Cultural Affairs for the San Francisco Arts Commission, are pleased to dedicate a new sculpture by Maya Lin entitled Where the Land Meets the Sea at the California Academy of Sciences; it will be a permanent part of the City’s Civic Art Collection. The dedication will take place on Friday, October 24, at 4:00 p.m. on the West Terrace of the California Academy of Sciences.
This is the first permanent artwork by Maya Lin in San Francisco. The artist was selected through the Arts Commission’s competitive application process in 2005. Although Lin does not usually participate in competitions, she responded to the Arts Commission’s invitation to apply because of her keen interest in the California Academy of Sciences and the opportunity the project would provide to engage with the institution’s scientists. As an ardent environmentalist, Ms. Lin wished to develop a project that would make people more aware of their environment and the natural world.
The 36’ x 60’ x 15’ sculpture is fabricated from 5/8 inch marine grade stainless steel tubing. Like a line drawing in space, the sculpture depicts the topography between Angel Island and the Golden Gate Bridge. To make the hills and valleys of the terrain more visible, the actual scale of the landscape is exaggerated by five times above sea level and by ten times below. “This piece was the culmination of a quest to reveal San Francisco Bay—to get people to think about what’s beneath the water line in a new way,” says Lin. “It took almost eight months for us to mesh the land and water data sets because the two sets of data were completely segregated—and this is the whole point! We think of these things as two separate systems even though they are literally connected to each other.” In order to build the sculpture, Lin’s fabricator, the Walla Walla Foundry, recreated the exterior West Terrace of the Academy in their warehouse to ensure precision in the attachment of the sculpture to the terrace’s six columns.
The sculpture is installed outdoors on the Academy’s West Terrace, where it is seamlessly attached to six columns and suspended by nine thread-like steel cables from the overhead solar canopy. It seems to float like a cloud in a Chinese landscape painting against the backdrop of greenery in Golden Gate Park, a dynamic counterpoint to the formal and orderly geometry of the building’s architecture by Renzo Piano. Interpretive signage installed on a wall adjacent to the sculpture describes the section of the San Francisco Bay that is depicted in the sculpture. Arts Commission Director Luis Cancel states, “This is one of the most significant works to be acquired by the Arts Commission for the Civic Art Collection in recent years.”
Maya Lin was selected from a candidate pool of 25 artists by a joint committee comprised of representatives from the Academy of Sciences, the Arts Commission, local museum curators and a member of the Music Concourse Citizen’s Advisory Committee. The Committee’s representatives were appointed to oversee the development of the public art program for the Academy of Sciences. Ms. Lin was chosen through a rigorous process concluding with an interview with the Advisory Committee. Although the California Academy of Sciences is a private nonprofit institution, its buildings occupy City property and a portion of the construction cost of the new building was funded with General Obligation Bonds. For this reason, the City’s Art Enrichment Ordinance was applicable and provided the funding for the project.
For a limited time, this is an unprecedented opportunity to view Maya Lin’s work on both sides of the Music Concourse in Golden Gate Park. The sculpture dedication on Friday, October 24th, is concurrent with the opening of her show entitled Systematic Landscapes at the de Young Museum. Following the 4:00 p.m. dedication ceremony at the Academy, visitors are invited to walk across the Music Concourse to the de Young to join Ms. Lin at a public reception for Systematic Landscapes. Visitors to the de Young exhibition will have the opportunity to view the development and evolution of her work for the California Academy of Sciences where her numerous renderings, small-scale models and maquettes for Where the Land Meets the Sea will be displayed. Where the Land Meets the Sea is Ms. Lin’s third sculpture in a series of wire landscapes, and the only one that is permanently installed outdoors. The two other landscapes in the series include Water Line (2006), an aluminum sculpture that represents a location just north of Antarctica, and Above and Below (2007), a 100-foot-long aluminum sculpture permanently installed at the Indianapolis Museum of Art.
Ms. Lin’s other recent work includes Pin River-Yangtze, an installation of 30,000 straight pins representing the topography of the Yangtze River, in the new American Embassy in Beijing, which opened in August, 2008; and the Confluence Project, which was initiated in 2000 and consists of seven art installations along the Columbia River Basin commemorating the bicentennial of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Ms. Lin is also completing a four-acre earthwork at Storm King Art Center in Mountainville, N.Y., one of a series of wave fields sculpted from grass, sand and soil. Ms. Lin was awarded the New York Prize Senior Fellowship by the Van Alen Institute in August, 2008, to pursue advanced research and experimentation in the field of public architecture.
The mission of the Academy to explore, explain and protect the natural world parallels the artist’s own passionate commitment to save the Earth and its natural phenomena. A second artwork for the Academy is proposed to be unveiled in 2009. Entitled What is Missing?, it will be a monument to extinction and will be the last of the artist’s memorials. What is Missing? represents both endings and beginnings, as it will be her first multimedia artwork. The project will focus on lost or endangered animals and places, and was developed through her interaction and communication with the Academy’s research scientists. What is Missing? will be the first in a series of future projects planned by the artist with the objective of engendering an awareness of what is missing from our lives, such as the fireflies or lightning bugs that used to delight us as children.
About the San Francisco Arts Commission
Established by charter in 1932, the San Francisco Arts Commission (“SFAC”) is the City agency that champions the arts in San Francisco. We believe that a creative cultural environment is essential to the City’s well-being. SFAC programs integrate the arts into all aspects of City life. Programs include: Civic Art Collection, Civic Design Review, Community Arts & Education, Cultural Equity Grants, Public Art, SFAC Gallery, Street Artists Licensing, Summer in the City Concert Series.
About the California Academy of Sciences
The California Academy of Sciences is home to Steinhart Aquarium, Morrison Planetarium, Kimball Natural History Museum, and world-class research and education programs—all under one living roof. Admission to the Academy is: $29.95 for adults; $24.95 for youth ages 12 to 17, Seniors ages 65+ and students with valid ID; $19.95 for children ages 4 to 11; and free for children ages 3 and younger. Admission fees include all exhibits and shows. Hours are 9:30 am – 5:00 pm Monday – Saturday, and 11:00 am – 5:00 pm on Sunday. The Academy is closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas. During peak periods, including some holiday weekends, an admission surcharge and extended hours may apply. Visit or call (415) 379-8000 for more information.