Mary Miss

Mary Miss (born May 27, 1944[1]) is an American artist and designer whose primary interest is the public realm. Her work has crossed boundaries between architecture, landscape architecture, engineering and urban design. Her 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.

Mary Miss
Mary M Miss

(1944-05-27) May 27, 1944 (age 76)
EducationUniversity of California, Santa Barbara (B.A. 1966)
Maryland Institute College of Art (M.F.A. 1968)
StyleEnvironmental art
Bruce Colvin
(m. 1967; div. 1986)

George Peck

Early life and educationEdit

Miss was born May 27, 1944 in New York City, but she spent her youth moving every year while living primarily in the western United States.[1]

Miss studied art and received a B.A. from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 1966.[2] Miss later received an M.F.A. from the Rhinehart School of Sculpture of Maryland Institute College of Art in 1968.[3]

Influence in public artEdit

As a public artist, Miss is considered a pioneer in environmental art and site-specific art, as well a leading sculptor during the feminist movement of the 1970s. She was a founding member of the journal Heresies. 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. Miss’ work crosses boundaries between landscape architecture, architecture, urban design, and graphic communication. Her work creates situations that emphasize a site's history, ecology, or aspects of the environment that have gone unnoticed. She has been particularly interested in redefining the role of the artist in the public domain.

In her influential 1979 essay, Sculpture in the Expanded Field, art critic Rosalind Krauss opens with a description of Mary Miss's, Perimeters/Pavilions/Decoys.[4] Krauss uses Miss's work to support her examination of sculpture's interdisciplinary nature between architecture and landscape. South Cove (1988)[5], a permanent public project in Battery Park, is a seminal project in Miss' career as it signified new possibilities for artists working in the public realm. The project, located on a three-acre site at the base of the riverfront Esplande, was made in collaboration with architect Stanton Eckstut and landscape designer Susan Child. "South Cove brings the public more intimately in contact with the water than any other component of Battery park City or, indeed, any other Manhattan riverside park."[6]

Miss has worked on the development of the project City as Living Laboratory, which, according to the project's description, collaborates with artists, environmental designers and scientists to focus on and explore sustainability in cities.[7]

Selected workEdit

Ropes/Shore (1969) traced the edge of Ward's Island with ropes staked and pulled taut at 20-foot intervals.

Battery Park Landfill (1973) installation was a temporary piece of five signboard-like structures, placed 50-feet apart across the landfill site.[8] A series of large cut out circles descended into the ground describing a column of air that materialized only when the viewer stood with the boards aligned.

Untitled (1975)[9] was created in April and May 1973 at the Allen Memorial Art Museum in Oberlin, Ohio, as part of the exhibition Four Young Americans (which also featured Ann McCoy, Ree Morton, and Jackie Winsor). This initial version of the work comprised wooden slats protruding directly along the sides of a square hole cut into the ground on the northeast lawn of the museum. The museum subsequently invited Miss to re-create the work using permanent materials—making this her first permanent commissioned work and her earliest extant public work. Constructed in the summer of 1975 under the artist's supervision, the second version was created with powder-coated steel slats protruding from tinted concrete, in its original siting.

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 towers varied in size, from 12’ to 18’ tall. After passing between the earth mounds, the viewer came upon a 16’ square opening in the ground with a protruding ladder. Approaching the hole and descending, a sunken courtyard is revealed. Inside the submerged courtyard were numerous doorways, windows and corridors to venture. 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. Miss worked in collaboration with landscape architect Susan Child and architect Stanton Eckstut on this project.

The Des Moines Art Center (1989–96),[10] Des Moines, Iowa, is a 7.5-acre site developed as both an art installation and restoration site. It includes a demonstration wetland, outdoor classroom, overhanging walkways, a pavilion, and a curved trellis. The structures highlight the connection between land and water. Visual elements and images are interwoven throughout the site to reflect the history of the park and its surroundings.

Framing Union Square, 14th Street Subway, NYC

Framing Union Square] (installed 1998),[11] New York City, Miss collaborated with architect Lee Harris Pomeroy to create 125 red frame elements scattered throughout the Fourteenth Street Union Square Subway Station. The red elements highlight the disappearance of lost infrastructure as well as industrial elements that remain.

CALL/City as Living Laboratory: Sustainability Made Tangible through the Arts (2008–present). CaLL focuses on reshaping the boundaries between artists and urban infrastructure by articulating a vision of the public sphere where artists are able to address environmental issues of our time. Multiple projects have been developed or are under development as part of this initiative.

CALL projectsEdit

Parks as Living Laboratory (2005-2006) was developed by Mary Miss during the Master Plan phase for the Orange County Great Park in Irvine, California that would encourage active participation and collaboration in city parks. The goal was to create a Research and Residency Center, a place where artists could collaborate/engage with scientists and social scientists.

Roshanara's Net (2008)[12] created a temporary garden of medicinal plants—ayurvedic herbs, trees and bushes—in New Delhi, India. The installation focused on the health and well being of the individuals and their communities.

The Passage (2010) was a project intended for a ride on the Staten Island Ferry from Manhattan to the Staten Island Courthouse Memorial Green.

Ravenswood/CaLL (2011) was a project to highlight ecology, the history of manufacturing, and the presence of small-scale artisanal fabrication and artists in New York City's Long Island City neighborhood. The project focuses on the submerged Sunswick Creek, which is traced through the neighborhood.

FLOW (Can You See the River?) (2011) was a project made up of a series of ‘stopping places’ along a six-mile stretch of the White River between the Indianapolis Museum of Art and the center of Indianapolis.

BROADWAY: 1000 Steps (2011 – ongoing) is a long-term initiative to establish Broadway as the “green” corridor of New York City. It was started by Miss in City as Living Laboratory.

StreamLines (2013)[13] installed a cluster of mirrors and red beams in five Indianapolis neighborhoods, which radiate out from a central point to nearby streams and waterways. The installation was intended to get visitors to follow the beams to the nearby waterways. This project was made possible by a grant from the National Science Foundation.


Miss was included in the exhibition Twenty-Six Contemporary Women Artists at the Aldrich Museum in 1971. Lucy Lippard was the curator, and other artists included Alice Aycock and Jackie Winsor.[14] She was also included in the exhibition Four Young Americans alongside the artists Ann McCoy, Ree Morton, and Jackie Winsor, curated by Ellen H. Johnson and Athena Tacha at the Allen Memorial Art Museum at Oberlin College.

Along with others, Miss's work has been included in the exhibitions Decoys, Complexes and Triggers at the Sculpture Center in New York, Weather Report: Art and Climate Change organized by Lucy Lippard at the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art, More Than Minimal: Feminism and Abstraction in the 1970s at the Rose Art Museum, and Century City: Art and Culture in the Modern Metropolis at the Tate Modern.[15]

Miss has also been the subject of exhibitions at the Harvard University Art Museum, Brown University Gallery, The Institute of Contemporary Art in London, the Architectural Association in London, Harvard University's Graduate School of Design, and the Des Moines Art Center.[15]

Selected group exhibitionsEdit

  • Sculpture Annual (1970) Whitney Museum of American Art, New York[16]
  • Whitney Biennial (1973) Whitney Museum of American Art, New York[17]
  • Rooms (1976) P.S. 1, Institute for Art and Urban Resources, Long Island City, New York[18]
  • Nine Artists: Theodoran Awards (1977) Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, NY[19]
  • Architectural Analogues (1978) Whitney Museum of American Art, New York[20]
  • The Minimal Tradition (1979) Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art, Ridgefield, Connecticut[21]
  • Drawing:The Pluralist Decade (1980) Venice Biennale, Italy[22]
  • Whitney Biennial (1981) Whitney Museum of American Art, NY[23]
  • Habitats (1983) P.S. 1, Institute for Art and Urban Resources, Long Island City, New York[24]
  • Metamanhattan (1984) Whitney Museum of American Art, Downtown Branch, NY[25]
  • Sitings (1986) La Jolla Museum of Contemporary Art, La Jolla, CA; Dallas[26]
  • New Photography 8 (1992) MoMA, New York[27]
  • The Second Dimension: 20th Century Sculptors Drawings (1993) Brooklyn Museum, New York[28]
  • More Than Minimal: Feminism and Abstraction in the 70's (1996) Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University, Waltham MA.[29]
  • 100 Drawings (1999) P.S. 1, Contemporary Art Museum, Long Island City, New York[30]
  • Primarily Structural: Minimalist and Post-Minimalist Works on Paper (1999) P.S. 1, Contemporary Art Museum, Long Island City, New York[31]
  • Biennial Exhibition of Public Art, Neuberger Museum of Art (1999) S.U.N.Y. Purchase, NY.[32]
  • Earthworks: Land Reclamation as Sculpture (2000) Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, WA.[33]
  • Century City: Art and Culture in the Modern Metropolis (2001) Tate Modern, London, England[34]
  • The Art of 9/11 (2005) Apex Art, New York[35]
  • Weather Report: Artists & Climate Change (2007) curated by Lucy Lippard, Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art, Boulder, CO[36]
  • Decoys, Complexes, and Triggers: Feminism and Land Art in the 1970s (2008) Sculpture Center, Long Island City, NY[37]
  • Modern Women: Single Channel (2011) MoMA P.S. 1, Queens, New York[38]
  • Ends of the Earth: Land Art to 1974 (2012) The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA[39]
  • Social Ecologies (2015) curated by Greg Lindquist, The Brooklyn Rail Curatorial Projects, Brooklyn, NY[40]
  • Minimalism: Space. Light. Object (2018), National Gallery, Singapore.[41]
  • Female Minimal (2020) Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Pantin, France[42]

Selected solo exhibitionsEdit

  • Projects (1976) Museum of Modern Art, New York[43]
  • Perimeters/Pavilions/Decoys (1978) Nassau County Museum of Fine Arts, Roslyn, NY[44]
  • Screened Court (1979) Minneapolis College of Art, MN
  • Mirror Way (1980) Fogg Art Museum Harvard University, Cambridge, MA
  • Mary Miss, (1981) Brown University and University of Rhode Island, Kingston, RI
  • Art and Architecture (1983) Institute of Contemporary Art, London, England[45]
  • Pool Complex: Orchard Valley (1983–1985) Laumeier Sculpture Park, St. Louis, Missouri[46]
  • Interior Works: 1966-1984, (1984) Protetch-McNeil Gallery, NY
  • Mary Miss : Projects, 1966-1987 (1987), Architectural Association, London[47]
  • Mary Miss, Photo/Drawings (1991), Freedman Gallery, Albright College, Reading, PA[48]
  • Mary Miss Photo/Drawings (1996), Des Moines Art Center, Des Moines, IA[49]
  • Mary Miss: An Artist Working in the Public Domain (2000), Roger Williams University, Bristol, RI
  • Mary Miss: City as Living Laboratory, Hartford (2010-2011) Joseloff Gallery, Hartford, Connecticut[50]

Awards and honorsEdit

Miss received the New York City American Society of Landscape Architects President's Award in 2010, the American Academy in Rome's Centennial Medal in 2001, and a Medal of Honor from the American Institute of Architects in 1990. She received a fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation in 1986. She was awarded grants by the National Endowment for the Arts in 1984, 1975, and 1974.[51]

  • Creative Artists Public Service (CAPS) grants (1973,[52] 1977[53])
  • Project Grant, Mott Community College, Flint, MI, 1974
  • New York State Council on the Arts (1973,[54] 1976[55])
  • National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) grants (1974,[56] 1975, 1984)
  • Brandeis University Creative Arts award (1982)
  • Guggenheim fellowship (1986)
  • Medal of Honor, American Institute of Architects (1990)
  • Philip N. Winslow Landscape Design Award, Parks Council, NYC (1992)
  • Urban Design award (in collaboration with Studio Works), Progressive Architecture Magazine (1992)
  • The 2000 New York City Masterworks Award, The Municipal Arts Society and GVA Williams (2000)[57]
  • Centennial Medal, American Academy in Rome (2001)
  • Tau Sigma Delta Gold Medal, Tau Sigma Delta Honor Society for Architecture and Allied Arts (2004)[58]
  • China Sculpture Institute, Honorable Member (2008)
  • NOAA Environmental Literacy Grant for FLOW: An Innovative Educational Toolkit for Rivers Awareness (2010)
  • Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts Grant, for BROADWAY: 1000 Steps (2010)[59]
  • New York City American Society of Landscape Architects President's Award (2010)[60]
  • Anonymous Was A Woman, Visual Art New York, NY (2011)[61]
  • National Science Foundation Award For Informal Science Education (ISE) for BROADWAY: 1000 STEPS (2011)[62]
  • New York City Award for Excellence in Design for The Passage: A Moving Memorial (2012)[63]
  • Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant (2013)[64]
  • National Science Foundation Award for Indianapolis: City As Living Laboratory (2013)[65]
  • Award of Merit, The American Institute for Architecture (2015)[66]
  • Bedrock of New York Award (2017)[citation needed]
  • Global Excellence Award, Urban Land Institute (2018)[67]

She was named as a distinguished alumni of UC Santa Barbara in 1985 with RMS Titanic-discoverer Robert Ballard.[68]

Personal lifeEdit

Miss married sculptor Bruce Colvin in 1967,[69] but later divorced in 1986.[70] She is currently married to George Peck, a New York-based artist.[71] They live together in Tribeca where Miss also has her studio.[72]

Further readingEdit


  1. ^ a b "Mary M Miss - United States Public Records". FamilySearch.
  2. ^ "Summit NYC 2011: Mary Miss". The Municipal Art Society of New York. Archived from the original on September 14, 2012. Retrieved September 1, 2015.
  3. ^ "Mary Miss | The Cultural Landscape Foundation". Retrieved 2016-03-04.
  4. ^ Krauss, Rosalind (1979). "Sculpture in the Expanded Field". October. 8: 31–44. doi:10.2307/778224. ISSN 0162-2870. Retrieved 26 January 2021.
  5. ^ "South Cove". Retrieved 2016-03-03.
  6. ^ Princenthal, Nancy (June 7, 1988). "In The Waterfront". Village Voice.
  7. ^ "Mary Miss Studio and CITY AS LIVING LABORATORY (CaLL)". City University of New York: The Center for the Humanities. Retrieved 26 January 2021.
  8. ^ "Mary Miss's South Cove". Sculpture Nature. 7 July 2015.
  9. ^ "Untitled". Allen Memorial Art Museum. Retrieved 26 January 2021.
  10. ^ "Greenwood Pond: Double Site". Greater Des Moines Public Art Foundation. Retrieved 26 January 2021.
  11. ^ "Artwork: "Framing Union Square" (Mary Miss)". Retrieved 26 January 2021.
  12. ^ "48 Degrees Celsius". Curating Cities: A Database Of Eco Public Art. Retrieved 26 January 2021.
  13. ^ "StreamLines". Retrieved 26 January 2021.
  14. ^ Chadwick, Whitney (2012). Women, Art, and Society (5th ed.). New York: Thames and Hudson. p. 349. ISBN 9780500204054.
  15. ^ a b "U.S. Department of State - Art in Embassies". Retrieved 2015-04-07.
  16. ^ "Annual exhibition contemporary American sculpture, 1970". Whitney Museum of American Art. January 26, 1970 – via Internet Archive.
  17. ^ "1973 Biennial exhibition". Whitney Museum of American Art. January 26, 1973 – via Internet Archive.
  18. ^ "MoMA PS1 Archives, Series I: Curatorial and Exhibition Recordsin The Museum of Modern Art Archives MoMAPS1_I".
  19. ^ Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. (1977). Nine artists : Theodoron awards. Theodoron (Foundation). New York: Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation. ISBN 0-89207-008-0. OCLC 3310032.
  20. ^ "Architectural analogues : September 20-October 25, 1978, Whitney Museum of American Art, Downtown Branch". Whitney Museum of American Art. January 26, 1978 – via Internet Archive.
  21. ^ "The Minimal Tradition by CT: Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art Ridgefield, 1979 on Mullen Books". Mullen Books.
  22. ^ "Drawings: The Pluralist Decade - ICA Philadelphia". Institute of Contemporary Art - Philadelphia, PA. August 30, 2013.
  23. ^ Whitney Museum of American Art (1981). 1981 Biennial exhibition. Frances Mulhall Achilles Library Whitney Museum of American Art. Whitney Museum of American Art.
  24. ^ "Habitats | MoMA". The Museum of Modern Art.
  25. ^ Whitney Museum of American Art (1984). MetaManhattan : [exhibition] Whitney Museum of American Art, Downtown Branch, Federal Hall National Memorial, January 12-March 15, 1984. Frances Mulhall Achilles Library Whitney Museum of American Art. Whitney Museum of American Art.
  26. ^ Davies, Hugh Marlais, 1948- (1986). Sitings : Alice Aycock, Richard Fleischner, Mary Miss, George Trakas. Onorato, Ronald J., Yard, Sally., La Jolla Museum of Contemporary Art., Dallas Museum of Art., High Museum of Art. La Jolla, Calif.: La Jolla Museum of Contemporary Art. ISBN 0-934418-25-X. OCLC 13810750.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  27. ^ "New Photography 8: Dieter Appelt, Ellen Brooks, Darrel Ellis, Dennis Farber, Robert Flynt, Mary Miss, Gundula Schulze and Toshio Shibata | MoMA". The Museum of Modern Art.
  28. ^ "Brooklyn Museum".
  29. ^ Stoops, Susan L. (1996). More than minimal : feminism and abstraction in the '70s. Waltham, Mass. : Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University.
  30. ^ [1][dead link]
  31. ^ [2][dead link]
  32. ^ Art, Neuberger Museum of (1999). Neuberger Museum of Art 1999 Biennial Exhibition of Public Art: On the Campus of Purchase College, State University of New York, June 27-October 24, 1999. Neuberger Museum of Art.
  33. ^ "Earthworks: Land Reclamation, Revisited". July 29, 2020.
  34. ^ "Century City – Exhibition at Tate Modern". Tate. 2001-04-29. Retrieved 2021-01-26.
  35. ^ "apexart :: Arthur C. Danto :: The Art of 9/11".
  36. ^ Weather report : art and climate change. Lippard, Lucy R.,, Smith, Stephanie, 1970-, Revkin, Andrew,, Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art., EcoArts. Boulder, Colorado. 2007. ISBN 978-0-9799007-0-9. OCLC 181344923.CS1 maint: others (link)
  37. ^ "Decoys, Complexes, and Triggers: Feminism and Land Art in the 1970s".
  38. ^ [3][dead link]
  39. ^ "Ends of the Earth: Land Art to 1974".
  40. ^ "Social Ecologies | Brooklyn Rail Curatorial Projects".
  41. ^ "MINIMALISM: SPACE. LIGHT. OBJECT". National Gallery Singapore.
  42. ^ "Group Exhibition | Dimensions of Reality: Female Minimal". Thaddaeus Ropac.
  43. ^ [4][dead link]
  44. ^ Miss, Mary; Nassau County Museum of Fine Art (N.Y.) (1978). Perimeters/pavilions/decoys: [exhibition] : Nassau County Museum of Fine Arts [sic. Roslyn, N.Y.: The Museum. OCLC 4888654.
  45. ^ Institute of Contemporary Arts (London, England) (1983). Art & architecture. London : Institute of Contemporary Arts. ISBN 0905263243.
  46. ^ "Mary Miss". Laumeier Sculpture Park.
  47. ^ Miss, Mary; Architectural Association (Great Britain) (1987). Mary Miss: projects, 1966-1987. London: Architectural Association. ISBN 978-0-904503-95-1. OCLC 18806703.
  48. ^ Miss, Mary, 1944- (1991). Mary Miss, photo/drawings : April 2-28, 1991, Freedman Gallery, Albright College, Reading, Pennsylvania. Freedman Gallery (Reading, Pa.). Reading, Pa.: The Gallery. ISBN 0-941972-12-7. OCLC 24374904.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  49. ^ Miss, Mary, 1944- (1996). Mary Miss photo/drawings : September 21, 1996-January 5, 1997. Des Moines Art Center. Des Moines, Iowa: Des Moines Art Center. ISBN 1-879003-15-5. OCLC 37536823.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  50. ^ "City as Living Laboratory, Hartford (2011)". City as Living Laboratory (CALL).
  51. ^ Miss, Mary. "Artist Home Page". Retrieved 21 May 2014.
  52. ^ Creative Artists Public Service Program (1973). Photographers, Sculptors, Painters, Printmakers 1972-1973. Gallery Association of New York State Inc.
  53. ^ Creative Artists Public Service Program (1977). Visual Art: Graphic Artists, Painters, Photographers, Sculptors 1976-1977. Gallery Association of New York State Inc.
  54. ^ New York State Council on the Arts (1973). New York State Council on the Arts Annual Report 1972-73 (PDF). New York Stale Council on the Arts. p. 140.
  55. ^ New York State Council on the Arts (1977). New York State Council on the Arts Annual Report 1975-76/1976-77 (PDF). New York State Council on the Arts. p. 87.
  56. ^ National Council on the Arts (1974). National Endowment of the Arts Annual Report 1974 (PDF). Washington, D.C.: National Endowment of the Arts. p. 110.
  57. ^ "14th Street Union Square Station". LHPArchitects. Retrieved 2021-01-26.
  58. ^ "Gold Medal Recipients | Tau Sigma Delta". Retrieved 2021-01-26.
  59. ^ "Graham Foundation > Grantees > Mary Miss". Retrieved 2021-01-26.
  60. ^ "Previous President's Dinner Honorees | ASLA-NY". Retrieved 2021-01-26.
  61. ^ "Recipients to Date". Anonymous Was A Woman. Retrieved 2021-01-26.
  62. ^ "NSF Award Search: Award#1240641 - City as Living Laboratory for Sustainability in Urban Design". Retrieved 2021-01-26.
  63. ^ "Design Commission - Thirtieth Annual Design Awards". Retrieved 2021-01-26.
  64. ^ "The Pollock-Krasner Foundation, Inc. announces 116 grants totaling $2,163,000 to visual artists internationally in fiscal year 2013-2014. – Pollock-Krasner Foundation". Retrieved 2021-01-26.
  65. ^ "NSF Award Search: Award#1323117 - Indianapolis as a Living Laboratory: Science Learning for Resilient Cities". Retrieved 2021-01-26.
  66. ^ "AIA New York Announces 2015 Design Award Winners". AIA New York. Retrieved 2021-01-26.
  67. ^ "ULI Announces Winners of 2017-2018 Global Awards for Excellence". ULI Europe. 2017-11-14. Retrieved 2021-01-26.
  68. ^ "UC Santa Barbara Will Honor 2 Alumni". Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles. November 7, 1985. Retrieved September 1, 2015.
  69. ^ Degenhart, Karen (September 1, 1981). "Activities". The Governors State University Innovator. 8 (1). University Park, Illinois: Governors State University. p. 6. Retrieved March 9, 2016.
  70. ^ Berman, Avis (November 1989). "Space Exploration" (PDF). ARTnews. Vol. 88 no. 9. New York City. pp. 130–135. Retrieved March 9, 2016.
  71. ^ Baldwin, Deborah (September 20, 2001). "It's Going to Take More Than Elbow Grease". The New York Times. New York City. Retrieved March 3, 2016.
  72. ^ Smith, Sonia (September 7, 2006). "Mary Miss, artist". Orange County Register. Santa Ana, California. Retrieved March 3, 2016.

External linksEdit