American, 20th–21st century, female.
Born 27 May 1944, in New York City.
Installation artist, sculptor, designer. Land Art, environmental art, site-specific art.
Mary Miss studied at the University of California at Santa Barbara, graduating with a BA in 1966. She received her MFA from the Rhinehart School of Sculpture at the Maryland Art Institute in 1968. She is known for her site-specific environmental artwork. Her sculptures, installations, and interventions engage and respond to the physical and psychological geography of a site, addressing and at times altering the viewer’s perception and experience of space and place.
In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Miss began creating minimalist interventions in the landscape aimed to modify perceptions of the environment by obstructing or redirecting a viewer’s path through the space. Among these were Ropes/Shore (Wards Island, New York, 1969), Vs in a Field (Liberty Corner, New Jersey, 1969) and Untitled (Battery Park) (New York, 1973).
Miss’s Perimeters/Pavilions/Decoys (Nassau County Museum, Roslyn, New York, 1977–1978) was an important early work for the artist. Miss’s other works from this period exhibit similar themes, such as the outdoor installation Field Rotation (Governors State University, Park Forest South, Illinois, 1981) and the indoor installation Mirror Way (Fogg Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1980).
Since the mid-1980s Miss has focused primarily on larger-scale interventions that help to shape public space, engage the community, and bring attention to environmental issues. Collaborating with designers, architects, landscape architects, scientists, and urban planners, the artist has completed numerous projects throughout the world, including creating a multi-acre waterfront park in Battery Park City, New York (with Stanton Eckstut and Susan Child, 1984–1987) and an interactive Wall of Water at the Olympic Park in Beijing, China (2007–2008).
In 2011, Miss began the City as Living Laboratory, an initiative aimed at creating opportunities for artists to collaborate with other professionals working in science, urban planning, and policy on projects aimed at stimulating a more environmentally conscious public. Among the projects Miss has produced as part of this series are FLOW: Can You See the River? (Indianapolis, Indiana, 2011) and Broadway: 1000 Steps (New York City, 2011–2013).
Mary Miss has been the recipient of many awards for arts, architecture, and design, including multiple grants, among them from the National Endowment for the Arts, a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship, and a Medal of Honor from the American Institute of Architects.
1971, 26 Contemporary Women Artists, Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art, Ridgefield, CT
1976, Intervention in Landscape: Projects/Documentation/Film/Video, Hayden Gallery, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge
1977, Women in Architecture, Brooklyn Museum of Art, New York
1978, Architectural Analogues, Whitney Museum of American Art, Downtown Branch, New York
1980, Architectural References, Los Angeles Institute of Contemporary Art
1980, Drawings/Structures, Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston
1983, Beyond the Monument, Hayden Gallery, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge
1984, Metamanhattan, Whitney Museum of American Art, Downtown Branch, New York
1985, The Artist as Social Designer, Los Angeles County Museum of Art
1986, Sitings, La Jolla Museum of Contemporary Art, California; Dallas Museum, Texas; High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA; Tel Aviv Museum, Israel; Louisiana Museum, Denmark
1989, Making Their Mark: Women Artists Move into the Mainstream, 1970–1985, Cincinnati Art Museum, Ohio; New Orleans Museum of Art; Denver Art Museum; Philadelphia
1996, More Than Minimal: Feminism and Abstraction in the 70’s, Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA
1999, Biennial Exhibition of Public Art, Neuberger Museum of Art, State University of New York, Purchase
2000, Earthworks: Land Reclamation as Sculpture, Seattle Art Museum, Washington
2008, Decoys, Complexes, and Triggers: Feminism and Land Art in the 1970s, Sculpture Center, Long Island City, NY
2012, Ends of the Earth: Land Art to 1974, The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
1976, Projects, Museum of Modern Art, New York
1978, Perimeters/Pavilions/Decoys, Nassau County Museum of Fine Arts, Roslyn, NY
1979, Screened Court, Minneapolis College of Art, Minnesota
1980, Mirror Way, Fogg Art Museum Harvard University, Cambridge, MA
1982, Laumeier Sculpture Park, St. Louis, MO
1981, Mary Miss, Brown University and University of Rhode Island, Kingston
1983, Art and Architecture, Institute of Contemporary Art, London; San Diego State University, California; University of California at Santa Barbara
1986, Study for an Entry, Danforth Museum of Art, Framingham, MA
1987, Architectural Association, London
1990, Harvard University, Graduate School of Design, Cambridge, MA
1991, Freedman Gallery, Albright College, Reading, PA
1996, Mary Miss Photo/Drawings, Des Moines Art Center, Iowa
2000, Mary Miss: An Artist Working in the Public Domain, Roger Williams University, Bristol, RI
- Lippard, Lucy: ‘Mary Miss: An Extremely Clear Situation’, in Art in America, vol 62, no. 2, 1974.
- Onorato, Ronald J.: ‘Illusive Spaces: The Art of Mary Miss’, in Artforum, vol 17, 1978.
- Krauss, Rosalind E.: ‘Sculpture in the Expanded Field’, in October, no. 8, 1979.
- Morris, Robert: Earthworks: Land Reclamation as Sculpture, exhibition catalogue, Seattle Art Museum, Seattle (WA), 1979.
- Onorato, Ronald J.: Mary Miss – Perimeters/Pavilions/Decoys, Nassau County Museum of Fine Arts, Roslyn (NY), 1979.
- Saalfield, Agnes: Mary Miss, exhibition catalogue, Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge (MA), 1980.
- Tuchman, Phyllis: Mary Miss: Interior Works 1966–1980, exhibition catalogue, Bell Gallery, University of Rhode Island, Kingston, 1981.
- Linker, Kate: Mary Miss, exhibition catalogue, Institute of Contemporary Art, London, 1983.
- Davies, Hugh M./Onorato, Ronald J./Yard, Sally: Sitings: Alice Aycock, Richard Fleischner, Mary Miss, George Trakas, exhibition catalogue, La Jolla Museum of Contemporary Art, La Jolla,1986.
- Giovanini, Joseph: Mary Miss: Projects 1966–1987, Architectural Association, London, 1987.
- Hamilton, Esley (ed.)/McCue, George (ed.): Site Sculpture at Laumeier: Jackie Ferrara and Mary Miss, exhibition catalogue, Laumeier Sculpture Park, St. Louis (MO), 1987.
- Castro, Jan Garden: ‘New Territories; An Interview with Mary Miss’, in Sculpture Magazine, vol 18, no. 6, 1999.