Pioneering public artist Mary Miss is internationally acclaimed for redefining the way art functions in the public realm. From her earliest work, she has been interested in bringing the specific attributes of a site into focus along with and audience engagement within public space. She is one of a small number of sculptors who, during the early 1960s, abandoned the traditional studio activities and went out into the landscape to explore, to make a mark, and to build on it. She has been particularly interested in redefining the role of the artist in the public domain.
Her work is rich with allusions to the architecture and sensibilities of other cultures and eras. Projects by Miss often cross boundaries between architecture, landscape architecture, engineering and urban design. She creates situations that emphasize a site’s history, ecology or aspects of the environment that have gone unnoticed. These installations are collaborative in nature: she has worked with scientists, historians, designers and public administrators. She is primarily interested in how to engage the public in decoding their surrounding environment.
The issues addressed in Greenwood Pond: Double Site continue to resonate in the artist’s work. For example, her project FLOW: Can You See the River? (2008-2013) commissioned by the Indianapolis Museum of Art, along the White River includes work by other artists and was created through the collaboration of numerous arts and municipal organizations. According to an Art in America online article: “FLOW, through installations, interactive technologies, a festival and other public programming … examines how the river affects the lives of ordinary citizens, and vice versa.”
Since 2008 Miss has worked on the development of the City as Living Laboratory: Sustainability Made Tangible through the Arts, a non- profit organization which nurtures teams of artists and scientists working with neighborhood communities to bring about greater environmental awareness and envision more livable cities of sustenance.
Miss was born May 27, 1944 in New York City, New York, but she spent her youth moving every year while living primarily in the western United States. Miss studied art and received a B.A. from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 1966. Miss later received an M.F.A. from the Rhinehart School of Sculpture of Maryland Institute College of Art in 1968.
Other Related Work
Perimeters/Pavilions/Decoys (1977), located at the Nassau County Museum. For this installation, three tower-like structures, two mounds and an underground courtyard were built on a 5-acre park site. The viewer encounters experiences and multiple perspectives, both above and below ground.
South Cove (1984), New York City, the Battery Park City Fine Arts Commission chose Miss to be the lead artist for South Cove, a restoration and waterfront promenade along the Hudson River in Manhattan. The 3.5-acre park near the tip of Manhattan, is composed of wooden pilings, trellises, grids and a steel mesh overlook. The project also served restorative functions for both the damaged landscape and isolated waterfront.