Maya Ying Lin (born October 5, 1959) is an American designer and artist who is known for her work in sculpture and landscape art. She became famous at age 21 as the designer of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. Lin studied at Yale University, where she received a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1981 and a Master of Architecture degree in 1986. She has also been awarded honorary doctorate degrees from Yale University, Harvard University, Williams College, and Smith College. In 1987 she was among the youngest at Yale University to receive an honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts.
As a 21-year-old architecture student at Yale, Lin designed the Vietnam Veterans Memorial as a class project, then entered it in the largest design competition in American history. Her striking proposal, a V-shaped wall of black stone, etched with the names of 58,000 dead soldiers, beat out the submissions of 1,420 other entrants. She encountered ferocious criticism when her unconventional design was selected. Feelings were running so high that her name was not even mentioned at the dedication of the memorial in 1982. She coped with the painful controversy by returning to Yale as a graduate student. Her inspiring vision has since become the most-visited memorial in the nation's capital. The families of the fallen leave mementos at the wall, and veterans maintain a constant vigil there.
Two black granite walls, placed below grade, engraved in chronological order with the names of the men and women who gave their lives in the Vietnam War. At the apex where the two walls meet, the dates 1959 and 1973 (marking the beginning and end of the war) "meet" thus closing the circle of the time span of the war. A returning veteran can find his or her own time upon the wall, making each one's experience of the memorial very personal.
The Civil Rights Memorial is a stone water table that intertwines historical events of the civil rights era with the names of people who were killed during that time. It teaches a brief history of that era and illustrates how a person's death is often directly related to the enactment of better legislation.
In this artwork, the intention was to work with a building that had in its design numerous "throwaway spaces". These highly visible yet neglected areas became the site for the artwork. By filling them with broken safety glass, gardens evoking landscape and seascape were created, affording pockets of calm within this busy deconstructivist building.
The first of the permanent wire landscape installations. The form is based on the topography of the underground river system, the White River, which flows under the state of Indiana and is the second longest underground river system in the country.
The sculpture takes the form of a drawing in space based upon the topology of the San Francisco Bay in the vicinity of the Golden Gate Bridge and Angel Island by using science and technology in her artwork to create new ways of looking at the environment, Maya Lin's work inspires viewers to pay closer attention to the natural world.
Encompassing approximately 30,000 square meters, "A Fold in the Field" is Maya Lin's largest and most ambitious earthwork to date. It is Lin's first earthwork depicting folds in the earth of which there are five in total, the highest of which gently rises to 11.5 meters. (Photographs courtesy of David Hartley-Mitchell)