American, b. 1959
The Secret Life of Grasses, 2018
PVC tube, lightweight soil, grasses (big bluestem [Andropogon gerardii], switchgrass [Panicum virgatum], and kernza [Thinopyrum intermedium]), oak, cable, and steel
Each tube 10 ft. (304.8 cm) high, 12 in. (30.5 cm) diam.
Plants courtesy The Land Institute, Salina, Kansas
Courtesy the artist
Artist Maya Lin has long taken climate change as a critical inspiration for her artistic production. This display includes three ten-foot-tall tubes, each housing a single stalk of prairie grass and making its entire structure—from root to tip—visible. The clear tubes demonstrate the extensive root systems shared by the types of native grasses that have been reintroduced into Storm King’s landscape over the past twenty years. Beyond the visual appeal of these intricate natural pathways, Lin is interested in the path forward that native grasses suggest: “The ability of these root structures to absorb carbon points to a potential solution to climate change—namely by restoring our soils and grasslands and by reforming our ranching and agricultural practices, we could not only improve food production, make our soils more resilient and able to stand longer periods of drought . . . but we could significantly reduce climate emissions, and restore biodiversity.”
In these encaustic reliefs, artist and climate activist Maya Lin captures the topography of polar ice from an aerial perspective. The works monumentalize and attempt to preserve a particular moment from the life of the ice. As Lin has remarked, “I’m very interested in the shifting flux of things. And especially now with human development and climate change, the world is being altered at an incredible pace—from rising seas, disappearing polar ice, to our major rivers and estuaries and how they have been changed by us. I wanted to capture some of those events: ‘Can we stop time? Can we freeze a moment in something that is always in flux? Can I reveal aspects of the natural world that you may not even realize are shifting?’ ”