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Visionaries Series: Maya Lin

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Maya Lin has been selected as this year’s featured Visionary. The Visionaries Series at the New Museum, supported by the Stuart Regen Visionaries Fund, honors leading international thinkers in the fields of art, architecture, design, and related disciplines of contemporary culture. The series spotlights innovators who are shaping intellectual life and defining the future of culture today.

Maya Lin is in a category all her own. For more than twenty-five years, she has maintained a careful balance between art and architecture, creating a remarkable body of work that encompasses large-scale, site-specific installations, intimate studio artworks, architectural works, and memorials. She draws inspiration from the landscape, interpreting the world through a twenty-firstcentury lens, utilizing technological methods to study and visualize the natural world, merging rational order with notions of beauty and the transcendental, and translating them into sculptures, drawings, and environmental earthworks. Her work asks the viewer to reconsider nature and the environment at a time when it is crucial to do so.

A committed environmentalist, Lin is at work on her last memorial, What is Missing?, a multi-sited artwork that raises awareness about the current crisis surrounding biodiversity and habitat loss. What is Missing? will focus attention on species and places that are now extinct or will most likely disappear within our lifetime.

There have been five mass extinctions in the history of our planet. The last one was caused by an asteroid the size of Manhattan hitting the earth at the speed of 18,000 meters per second. We are now witnessing the sixth mass extinction in the planet’s history, the only one caused not by a catastrophic event, but by the actions of one single species: mankind.

Approximately every twenty minutes we witness the disappearance of a distinct living species of plant or animal. Within our lifetime we will witness the extinction of an incalculable number of species. By some estimates, as much as 30 percent of the world’s animals and plants could be on a path to extinction within 100 years.


The Visionaries Series at the New Museum honors special individuals who have made major contributions to art and culture, and are actively imagining a better future. The series is made possible by the Stuart Regen Visionaries Fund, established by a gift from Barbara Gladstone in honor of her late son. Additional support for the Visionaries Series is provided by the Charlotte and Bill Ford Artist Talks Fund.

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