Artist Plants Dead Trees in NYC Park as Climate Change Warning

Lizzy Rosenberg - Author

May 12 2021, Published 12:00 p.m. ET

Over the last few years, a wide variety of artists have incorporated messages about climate change into their artwork, from Ai Weiwei to Banksy. But recently, one famous designer and sculptor decided to erect a massive installation in the middle of a New York City park, to convey a dark message about the future of our planet. Needless to say, Maya Lin's Ghost Forest isn't something you'll want to miss, if you find yourself near the Big Apple anytime soon.

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“There is a parallel between a global pandemic and climate change which is also a global threat to humanity,” Lin said of her latest work, as per ArtNet. “By 2100, 50 percent of all species may go extinct due to climate change.”

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What is Maya Lin's Ghost Forest?

Athens, Ohio native Maya Lin is an artist, designer, and sculptor who gained notoriety for her Vietnam Veterans Memorial which came to life in Washington D.C. in 1982. More recently, though, the 61-year-old artist installed an exhibit in the middle of New York City's Madison Square Park called Ghost Forest, which effectively warns onlookers of the looming dangers of the climate crisis, as well as the harm caused by rising sea levels, according to Reuters.

In 2013, Madison Square Park Conservancy chief curator, Brooke Kamin Rapaport, had asked Lin to create an installation, but it wasn't until a 2019 trip to Colorado when she came up with Ghost Forest, per ArtNet. Lin was inspired by groups of dead and dying Ponderosa pine trees, that she found bizarre and haunting. Once she was granted permission, she planted 49 dead Atlantic White Cedar tree trunks that sustained damage from an overflowing river in New Jersey. 

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“Throughout the world, climate change is causing vast tracts of forested lands to die off,” Lin said in her artist’s statement, as per The Architect's Newspaper. “They are being called ghost forests; they are being killed off by rising temperatures, extreme weather events that yield saltwater intrusion, forest fires, and insects whose populations are thriving in these warmer temperatures," she said. "I wanted to create something that would be intimately related to the Park itself, the trees, and the state of the earth."

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If you like Ghost Forest, you might enjoy these other climate change art installations:

If Ghost Forest piqued your interest, there are many other famous art installations that were erected as a meaningful ode to the effects of climate change. In 2017, for example, famed Chinese artist and activist, Ai Weiwei, created a film called Human Flow, according to Climate One, which details the strife of climate migrants across 23 different countries. It was a moving creation that showed the unrest worldwide, as a result of war, politics, and climate disruption.

Likewise, next to Regent's Canal in North London's Camden neighborhood, legendary graffiti artist, Banksy, spray painted the words "I DON'T BELIEVE IN GLOBAL WARMING" back in 2009. He made sure the words "global warming" were purposefully disappearing beneath the rising waters of the canal, as per The Guardian.

Make sure to catch Maya Lin's Ghost Forest before it's gone — it will remain in Madison Square Park until Nov. 14, 2021.

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