Designer and architect Maya Lin is getting ready to unveil a new art project in May called "Ghost Forest," a tree installation about the effects of climate change in Madison Square Park.
The piece, which was originally planned for summer 2020, will now be open to the public from May 10th through November 14th, 2021.
According to a press release, Ghost Forest derives its name from the devastating natural phenomenon in which "vast tracts of forestland that have died off due to extreme weather events related to climate change as well as sea-level rise and saltwater infiltration."
"As I approached thinking about a sculptural installation for Madison Square Park, I knew I wanted to create something that would be intimately related to the Park itself, the trees, and the state of the earth," Lin said in a statement. "All of us involved in the project were concerned not to bring in trees that had been killed by beetles lest we introduce a new species into the City that could potentially wreak havoc on Manhattan’s trees, so we started to look for trees that were the victims of extreme weather events related to climate change."
To that end, she chose a group of dead Atlantic white cedar trees, which were slated to be cleared from New Jersey's Pine Barrens as part of regeneration efforts, which have now been installed and interspersed all around the park.
"Foresters we are working with located an area that was about to be cleared as part of a restoration project on private lands of just such a forest stand," Lin added. "The homeowner has chosen to clear the dead or compromised cedars to allow for the regeneration of the trees since cedars need open light to repopulate."
Visitors will be able to walk among the 40-to-45 feet tall trees all summer and fall.
In addition to the trees, visitors will hear a soundscape composed by Lin, in collaboration with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, that weaves together the calls and songs of endangered and extinct animals once native to the NYC area, as well as a series of meditative music performances inspired by nature, done in conjunction with Carnegie Hall. And in the fall, the project will culminate with the planting of 1,000 native trees and shrubs in various public parks throughout the five boroughs.
“Maya’s installation underscores the concept of transience and fragility in the natural world and stands as a grave reminder of the consequences of inaction to the climate crisis and poor land use practices," said Brooke Kamin Rapaport, Deputy Director and Martin Friedman Chief Curator of Madison Square Park Conservancy. "Within a minimal visual language of austerity and starkness, Maya brings her role as an environmental activist and her vision as an artist to this work.”
Lin, who owns and operates Maya Lin Studio in NYC, famously won a national design competition for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the National Mall in Washington D.C. Her installation Storm King Wavefield has been a part of the Storm King Art Center for over a decade; she created the design of a building for the Museum of Chinese in America in Chinatown; she designed the Civil Rights Memorial in Montgomery, AL; and she served on the selection jury of the World Trade Center Site Memorial Competition. In recent years, she has been working on a $120 million redesign of Smith College’s century-old Neilson Library.