If you’re walking down Fifth Avenue in Manhattan this month, you might do a double take when you hit Madison Square Park. It’s an oasis normally, this green island in the middle of the city—but now, it’s home to a surreal stand of dead trees, seemingly sprung up overnight.
The installation, titled , is the work of renowned artist and architect Maya Lin, and is part of Madison Square Park Conservancy’s public art program. In keeping with Lin’s commitment to environmentalism and site specificity, the project has been in gestation since 2013.
After spending time in Colorado and seeing a rash of pine trees quickly dying, she chose to work with dead trees instead of living ones, giving its macabre name, and alluding to the dire state of forests around the world.
In an exclusive interview filmed back in 2013 as part of Art21’s Extended Play series, Lin spoke about the process of creating her sculpture series , which touched on another environmentalist theme: the consequences of erosion.
“I was brought up in the ’60s… so, whether I was petitioning to boycott Japan for the whaling industry, or petitioning to ban steel traps… [I was] sort of being a bit of an activist.” That early impulse remains formative in Lin’s art practice, which she says is “really personal.”
As at Madison Square Park, with the series, the beauty of the installation is tied to the sense of mourning and loss.
“I’m as much interested in the form-making that I’m doing,” she told Art21, “as well as getting you to think about what we’re doing to the world around us.”
Watch the video, which originally appeared as part of Art21’s New York Close Up series, below.