Maya Lin: 林瓔...October 5,1959-****...United States
"[With] the architecture, you're
definitely making art, but it's surrounded by a problem solving…The art work, on the other hand, is, ‘Go into
a room and make whatever you want to make.’ And it's very, very hard."
Weather you know the name Maya Lin or not, you have seen
or know of her artwork. Lin is a Chinese-American that was born in Athens, Ohio. Her dad was a ceramist and the dean of fine
arts and her mom was a professor of literature, both working for Ohio University. Young Lin was always a gifted math student
and this greatly contributed to her talent in architecture. She first caught the eye of the world when she submitted the winning for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. At that time she was a twenty-one year old senior at Yale University studying art and
architecture. The design consisted of seventy slabs of high polish granite that was engraved with all of the names of the
soldiers that died in combat, listed in chronological order. “I
also wanted remembering the past relevant to the present. Some people wanted me to put the names in alphabetical order. I
wanted them in chronological order so that a veteran could find his time within the panel. It's like a thread of life.”
The memorial was erected on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. and was opened to the public on November 11, 1982.
Vietnam Veterans Memorial
After her work on the Vietnam War Memorial, Lin went on to earn a Master's
degree in architecture and later an Honorary Doctorate in fine arts from Yale. Her designs include several sculptures, furniture,
parks, monuments, and other architectural projects. Most of her ideal revolve around the idea of the landscape and the use
of environmental elements. “The artworks deal much more specifically
with my personal love of landscape, the environment, how we see the land through a microscopic view, a satellite view of the
Earth. That's my art.” This can also be seen in her Civil Rights Memorial in
Montgomery, Alabama. The work was inspired by Martin Luther King's "I have a dream" speech that states, “…we will
not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.” Dr. King’s words
are included into the design of the memorial.
Beyond the construction of monuments, Lin is also interested in the design of the natural environment. Her use of natural
materials to create landscapes that roll, wave and almost appear to be some unique material under the grass. As in her 2008
work, Storm King Wavefield. There are seven ridges of waves that ascend fifteen feet high.
The ridges stretch for some 300 feet and rest on an eleven acre patch of land.
Storm King Wavefield
2008. Grass on Earth and gravel. 11 acres. Storm King Art Center, Mountainville, New York.
Lin has worked extremely hard to get to and maintain her standing in the art world. Although gifted with an academically
strong left brain, she knows that the flex of the creative right hemisphere of the brain must also be utilized. “I think you have to
understand that no matter how much you study, no matter how much you know, the side of your brain that has the smarts won't
necessarily help you in making art. That's a frightening notion. Nothing you learn will help you in being creative. In fact,
at times it could hurt you if you think too hard. Sometimes you have to stop thinking. Sometimes you shut down completely.
Every time you do that, you're afraid you'll never start up again. I think that's true in any creative field. Nothing is ever
guaranteed. Nothing is ever a sure thing and all that came before doesn't predicate what you might do next.” Lin lives in New York with her husband Daniel Wolf, a photography dealer, and their