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 Mary Miss  (1944 - )

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Lived/Active: New York      Known for: environmental installation, earthworks

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BIOGRAPHY for Mary Miss
1944 (New York City)
New York

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environmental installation, earthworks

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Synthesizing sculpture, architecture and landscaping, Mary Miss is considered a pioneering figure in Earthworks* or Land Art, and the ascendancy of her reputation from the 1970s coincided with the feminist* art movement.  Of her career as a female sculptor and Land Artist, she wrote:  "Haven't you noticed that much of the most important sculpture today is being done by women?  When I went to school in the sixties there were almost no women sculptors.  Monuments?  We are anti-monument; we want our work to be part of the land, to grow into it and enhance it--not to 'stick up' or dominate it." 

Mary Miss was born in New York City, and during her childhood traveled extensively as her father was in the military.  She earned a B.A. degree in 1966 from the University of California at Santa Barbara; an M.F.A. in 1978 from the Maryland Art Institute, and also studied at the Rinehart School of Sculpture.

She began building room-size sculptures as an expression of her reaction to travels in western United States among Indian ruins, abandoned military forts and wide expanses of land.   In 1970, she first exhibited at the Whitney Annual and then began an association at the 55 Mercer Street Gallery in Manhattan.  Working at a landfill area at the Battery, she built an outdoor project of wooden baffles with holes cut through at varying levels to give viewers a variety of visual experiences looking through the apertures.  Other Land Art projects were at the Museum of Fine Arts in Roslyn on Long Island; Hills and Dales Part in Dayton, Ohio; Lake Placid, New York during the Winter Olympics; grounds of Governor State University in New York; and Laumeier Sculpture Park in St. Louis.

"In 1988, the sculptor completed one of the most prestigious commissions in the country---South Cove for Battery Park City, a posh real estate development at the southern tip of Manhattan, not far from Wall Street."  Collaborating with female architects, she created walkway constructions that curved out into the water, and a "pergolalike lookout tower echoing the crown of the Statue of Liberty visible across the water."

Charlotte Streifer Rubinstein, American Women Sculptors, pp. 478-479

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