Artist
Maya Lin
American architect and artist

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Maya Lin
American architect and artist
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Birth Date

October 05, 1959

jtucker's picture

Contributor

Full disclosure: this article may be slightly biased, because I have a total lady crush on Maya Lin.

She is a major tree-hugging environmentalist and had the gumption to take the art world by storm, making gorgeous earthwork pieces that scream at the public to wake up and start giving a f**k about the environment. Oh, and while her work may be big, she is tiny and adorable. Yeah, that’s my type of lady.

Maya Lin’s first big breakthrough happened while she was a 21 year old architecture student at Yale. Over achiever for sure. Besides bagging a spot at one of the most prestigious Ivy League schools in the country while most of us were busy bar-hopping for the first legal time and benefiting society in no way, shape, or form, Lin was also busy creating the now infamous Vietnam War Memorial. 1,441 well-respected architects and designers fought for the opportunity to create one of the most moving memorials in our country's history and it was the young Lin who ended up victorious. While this success did not come without sexism, bigotry, and hate from the outside world, Lin persevered and made her design a reality. Needless to say, this triumph was the impetus for a very successful career.  

Much of Lin’s work takes the form of expansive sculptures made of the earth and for the earth. She is a total environmentalist and sustainability is of the utmost importance to her. So is tearing up the earth to make art really the act of a die-hard conservationist? It can be if you transform abused and forgotten land and offset the carbon footprint of making the sculpture by planting trees, which is exactly what Lin did. 

To give you an idea of Lin’s MO, she once explained that, "My work originates from a simple desire to make people aware of their surroundings and this can include not just the physical but the psychological world that we live in.” And that she does. When interacting with a Lin piece, it is almost impossible to not feel the joys of humanity and the natural environment coagulate into one.  

Turns out I am not alone when it comes to being obsessed with Lin’s work. President Barack Obama is a huge fan of Lin and even awarded her the National Medal of Arts in 2009. Freida Lee Mock's documentary "Maya Lin: A Strong Clear Vision" won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature in 1994. 

Lin has created for herself a successful career erecting memorials to move the masses, but sadly for society, Lin has sworn that she will only make one more memorial. It is called What is Missing? It is an ode to the planet and a plea for environmental conservation and love. Not a bad note to end on if I do say so myself. 

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Here is what Wikipedia says about Maya Lin

Maya Ying Lin (born October 5, 1959) is an American designer, architect, and artist who works in sculpture and land art. She achieved national recognition at the age of 21 while still an undergraduate at Yale University, when her design for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. was chosen in a national competition. It is considered one of the most influential memorials of the post-World War II period.

Lin has designed other memorials and numerous public and private buildings, landscape design, and sculpture. Although Lin's most well known sculptures and architectural work are historical memorials, she also honors nature through her environmentally themed works. In creating works which deal with the environment in decline, Lin aims to raise awareness for the environment for audiences in urban spaces.

Check out the full Wikipedia article about Maya Lin.