Water Matters Event
Outdoor Sculpture Presentation
For more than three decades, artist Mary Miss, who will present the opening lecture at the symposium, “The Place of Water in the World: Ritual, Beauty and the Environment,” has reshaped the boundaries between sculpture, architecture, landscape design, installation art, photography, and drawing. The result: she is one of the most influential public artists. With an unusual combination of raw power and simple poetry, her works demand engagement with materials, ideas, environments, and ourselves. Critic Eleanor Heartney has written about her role in the development of contemporary art: “The disciplines of sculpture, indeed the whole notion of art, has been reinvented due to efforts of pioneers like Miss.”
The artist’s international reputation is based on her environmental works that engage the viewer by offering multiple vantage points. Miss’s cues come from the physical characteristics of the site, the historic or social resonances that she uncovers during her research, and personal associations that the site conjures up.
Miss is extremely articulate about modern and contemporary sculpture as well as her own work. She has also thought carefully and spoken eloquently about the use of water as an element in public art and a subject for artists.
Among the most important features of Miss's projects is the way she accommodates the peculiarities of a site, as she did in a work from the mid-1980s, Pool Complex: Orchard Valley. Studying the grounds of an old estate in Laumeier Sculpture Park in St. Louis, Missouri, Miss was struck by the crumbling remains of some abandoned structures. Pool Complex was organized around the ruins of a swimming pool which had been built over a pond.
Along the waterfront of Battery Park that once served New York City as a vital seaport is South Cove (1988). Over the years the waterfront was gradually abandoned. With the object of bringing viewers back to the water’s edge, South Cove features a set of walkways leading to a circular jetty extending into the water.
For her presentation at the symposium, Miss will discuss these works as well as more recent and ambitious projects such as a proposal that focuses on the physical attributes and the social context of the Milwaukee waterfront. She will also address questions from the audience.
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