Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Wednesday's Women of Courage - Maya Lin

Today's Woman of Courage exemplifies true determination. As both artist and architect, her work reflects a strong interest in the environment. She has served as an advisor on sustainable energy use, and as a Board Member of the National Resources Defense Council. In 2000 she published her first book, Boundaries. She describes it as a "visual and verbal sketchbook, where image can be seen as text and text is sometimes used as image."

Here is more background on her work courtesy of

Maya Lin was born in 1959. Her parents emigrated from China and taught at Ohio University. When she was a 21-year-old student at Yale, her design for the Vietnam Memorial was chosen from over twelve hundred proposals. The controversy that ensued was ugly and unwarranted. Yet, Maya Lin defended her work with extraordinary grace and courage. Her vision manifests itself in the Vietnam Memorial, one of America's most significant monuments, with the names of those who died in the war chiseled into a wall of black marble slicing through the earth. The Civil Rights Memorial she designed in Montgomery, Alabama, pays tribute to fallen Civil Rights workers. Like the Vietnam Memorial, the names of those honored are chiseled in stone, but this monument creates the appearance of a stone table with water flowing over the sculpture as if rising from the earth itself.

Both monuments not only witness the past, but honor the outcome in the present. Maya's vision is strongly influenced by the Earth Artists of the 1960's and 1970's. She credits her Asian-American heritage as the source of her ability to combine the influences of East and West as well as reason and intuition to manifest within her architectural designs. Her strong concern for the environment is demonstrated by her use of recycled, living, or natural materials in her work. Her vision is clearly one of expansive respect for past, present, and future generations.

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