Maya Lin was born in Ohio to a family immersed in the arts. Her father was a ceramic artist, and dean of the Ohio University College of Fine Arts, and her mother, a poet, and professor of Literature at Ohio University. Like their mother, Maya’s brother, is also a poet, while her aunt, a skilled artist herself, is considered the first female architect in contemporary China.
With an undergraduate degree in the Arts and a Master’s in Architecture, Maya’s own artistic sensibilities seem a natural balance of her family’s talents. Each sculpture and monument she creates tells a story, meant to draw the viewers attention to the narrative she has set forth to tell and to evoke an emotion resulting in inward reflection or, with her more recent pieces, action. The concepts of her work, like the pieces themselves, are significant in size and purpose and have been from the start of her career.
In 1981, Lin entered a blind design contest for the creation of a memorial in honor of Vietnam Veterans and won. When her identity as a young, inexperienced woman was revealed however, her victory was contested. Maya defended her design in front of the United States Congress eventually winning the right to proceed with her design for the memorial. She went on to design a number of other memorials, including the Civil Right Memorial in Montgomery, Alabama, and The Women’s Table on the Yale University campus.
In recent years, her work has focused on climate change and its effects upon the depletion of waterways, the natural environment, and the endangerment of animals. In each piece, she uses recycled, upcycled or sustainable materials.
Her work can be seen around the world as near as San Francisco’s de Young Museum, on the Snake and Columbia Rivers in Oregon and Washington, and as far as Sweden where she did an earthwork entitled “Eleven Minute Walk.”
She currently lives and works in New York.
photo courtesy of myhero.com