Mary Miss


Redefining how art is integrated into the public realm since the early 1970s, I have helped reshape the boundaries between sculpture, architecture, landscape design, and installation art by articulating a vision of the public sphere where it is possible for an artist to address the issues of our time. In 2009, I founded City as Living Laboratory, creating a framework for making issues of sustainability tangible through the arts. Interdisciplinary collaboration is central to my work, creating projects as diverse as designing a temporary memorial around the perimeter of Ground Zero, marking the predicted flood level of Boulder, Colorado, revealing the history of the Union Square Subway station in NYC and creating an atlas of water for the city of Milwaukee in my current project, WaterMarks. My work has been shown at the Guggenheim Museum (Contemplating the Void) in 2010, the Sculpture Center in 2008, Senior & Shopmaker Gallery, NY 2006, the Des Moines Art Center in 1996, the Architectural Association, London in 1987, among other locations.  I have received a Guggenheim Fellowship and awards from the NEA.  

Project Description

Mary Miss Archive

I established City as Living Laboratory (CALL) in 2008 in order to expand the network of collaboration among artists, scientists, and communities that I had developed over the course of my career. CALL was not born in a vacuum, but was developed to carry on the work of envisioning and advancing sustainable development. To make these ideas and network more accessible, as well as to preserve my work, CALL has initiated the Archive Project, with the primary goal of building a publicly accessible database.

Thanks to the support of the Williamstown Art Conservation Center (WACC), to archivist Tom Donovan and a former CALL employee, Echo Zhou, we have established a strong foundation and made progress with the Archive Project. We have made improvements to storage processes and protocols, re-wrapped and re-boxed some of the archival materials, and constructed better storage facilities. Additional improvements are still needed, however, including custom boxes for models, additional repackaging of archival work, and restoration of early works. 

Tom Donovan helped us create a road map for the digital archive, which was spearheaded by Echo Zhou, who began by reorganizing and removing duplicate images and other archive files, such as bibliographic material. Zhou made the first comprehensive list of projects, which is the foundation for the Archive Project. 

After hiring an archive assistant, Phoebe Boatwright, we began organizing and cataloguing processes (both digital and physical), which has involved a comprehensive review, cleaning (i.e. further deleting duplicates), and creating a consistent naming/labeling convention for existing images as well as bibliographic and other support materials. Boatwright has created a comprehensive, inter-linked bibliography and exhibition list that is also linked to my artworks. She has photographed my PhotoDrawings series, begun scanning and rehousing the negatives, photographs, and drawings, wrote a lending protocol and has catalogued most of my work up to 1975. 

Consistent funding has been difficult, and despite all of the progress that has been made, we have more work to do to build a publicly accessible database.

The Tree of Life grant would allow us to continue preserving and conserving my artworks, to continue cataloguing my work, to pay for materials to rehouse drawings, photographs, negatives and archival materials, and to fabricate better boxes for models. In particular, the grant will allow me to document and catalog my early work—sculptures and drawings.