Penn Station (LIRR)

Eclipsed Time

Maya Lin
Sculpture in glass and metal by Maya Lin installed in the ceiling with light shining through.
“Eclipsed Time” (1994) by Maya Lin at Penn Station (LIRR). Photo: Rob Wilson

About the project

In "Eclipsed Time," Maya Lin tries to get commuters to think differently about time and trains. "I'm asking for a one-on-one relationship between the viewer and the work," the artist says. The large metal sculpture, installed overhead in the Long Island Rail Road's main concourse at Penn Station, combines industrial craftsmanship with contemporary technology to tell time. "When people think about clocks they usually envision hands or digital numbers," explains Lin. "Time is measured mathematically and specifically. I wanted to reflect time naturally and chose to use the concept of an eclipse." To create this effect, a solid disk hangs between the light source and a stationary glass disk. Light shines through the glass disk, illuminating the rotunda below. The solid disk travels from east to west and back. An eclipse is created at midnight, as the two disks are aligned and only a penumbra of light shines around the aligned circles. The cycle is repeated daily. 

The artwork has been de-installed. 

About the artist

Maya Lin is a well-known architect and public artist. Her sculptures, parks, monuments, and architectural projects are linked by her ideal of making a place for individuals within the landscape. Maya Lin has created works that reflect an environmentalist ethos. Frequently working in a large scale with technological tools such as sonar maps and satellite images, Lin re-imagines and reconstructs the often hard-to-discern contours of the earth in gallery installations. She draws inspiration for her sculpture and architecture from culturally diverse sources, including Japanese gardens, Hopewell Indian earthen mounds, and works by American earthworks artists of the 1960s and 1970s. Her most recognizable work, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, allows the names of those lost in combat to speak for themselves, connecting a tragedy that happened on foreign soil with the soil of America’s capital city, where it stands. Lin lives in New York and Colorado.