May 31, 2018

Maya Lin’s “Princeton Line” Will Take Shape Adjacent to Lewis Arts Complex Next Month

COMING SOON: It may look like a huge pile of dirt on the slope down from the new Lewis Arts complex, but the space will be transformed during the next month into an earthwork installation titled “The Princeton Line,” created by internationally-acclaimed artist Maya Lin.

By Donald Gilpin

Just past the Dinky Bar & Kitchen and the Cargot Brasserie, across from McCarter Theatre on a slope extending down from the new Lewis Arts complex, lies a large expanse of dirt enclosed by orange barriers and a metal fence.

“Coming Soon, Maya Lin” reads a sign on the fence, and within the next month that huge dirt space will be transformed into an earthwork installation titled “The Princeton Line,” the latest creation by the internationally-acclaimed artist who first achieved recognition for her design of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.

The Princeton University Art Museum commissioned Lin to design a two-part installation adjacent to the Lewis Arts complex, and Lin has described her conception as a continuation of a series of recent works called “Earth Drawings” and comprising two elements: an earthwork and a water table.

Designed to interact with the surrounding environment, it will invite visitors to explore undulating spaces created by mounded earth with the expectation that students will use these spaces for performances and outdoor classes.

Currently on holiday, Linwas not available for comment, but the first phase of the project, the earthwork, is scheduled for completion next month, and the second phase, the water table, will be installed in the fall.

Other earthworks by Lin of the same series as “The Princeton Line” include the “Eleven Minute Line” (2004) in Sweden and the “Kentucky Line” (2008) in Louisville, Kentucky.

A granite water table with a spheroid base will be the second component of Lin’s work. A fountain will be situated within a gravel plaza that appears to float above the ground with concrete-edge seating along the back, according to the Princeton University Office of Communications. The fountain’s veil of water will be wispy as it falls from the 12-foot-long tabletop made of jet mist granite.

“The table’s elliptical shape, inspired by drawings of the Earth’s orbit around the sun; the water weir, inspired by the notion of a black hole; and the jet mist granite, with a white, almost starry patterning, come together to help ‘reflect the galaxy’ — an allusion to the work of Albert Einstein,” the Office of Communications noted.

A 2016 recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Lin has created an influential body of work during her career that includes large-scale, site-specific installations; intimate studio artworks; architectural works; and memorials.

“By making a work in which she shapes and draws a line in the earth, together with the most abstract of her water tables to date, I am certain that Maya will make a lasting and engaging mark on our campus,” said Princeton University Art Museum Director James Steward.

“She is simply one of the most extraordinary designers of our time,” added Steward, who has known Lin for about 20 years and has long wanted to add her work to Princeton’s campus. “Her work meets many of our objectives, including diversifying the formal characteristics of the campus art collection and moving away from monumental sculptural forms.”