Maya Lin

by Grace Turner from Cairo

132003Maya Lin in 2014Berkeley Center for New Media [CC BY-SA 2.0 (] 

"I consider myself both an artist and an architect," said Maya Ying Lin. And she definitely is both. She was able to create a design of a national monument, enter in the contest for the national monument along with more than 1,000 others, and win. That is no minor feat. Read on to see what more Maya Lin has to offer.

Maya Ying Lin didn't decide to become an architect on a whim. Her family was, and still is, an artistic family. Her mother used to be a poet as well as a teacher and her father was a ceramicist and a teacher. Both taught at the Ohio University. During elementary and high school she excelled at math, which helped pave the way to her career in architecture (because in architecture you have to measure a lot etc.). After high school she went to Yale University. There, during her senior year (she was 22), she entered a design to the Vietnam Memorial contest. Obviously, there was no accident that Maya Ying Lin became an architect.

Maya Lin's great achievements started when she was a senior at Yale, where she entered her design for the Vietnam Memorial along with 1,420 others. Her design was two black granite walls that meet at an angle, with 58,000 names of the dead or missing in the Vietnam War engraved on it. The committee unanimously agreed to use her idea. Though the committee liked it, some Vietnam veterans disagreed and thought that it was "unprofessional." After that, her career hit off with a bang! Some of these later works of art are: the peace chapel at Junata College, Langston Hughes Library in Clinton Tennessee, and the "Wave Field" at the University of Michigan College of engineering. Another famous construction is the civil rights memorial in Montgomery, Alabama. It is a black sheet of metal with names of the 40 dead and important dates during the civil rights movement in that city. On top of this panel there is a lot of flowing water, which adds to the effect. Recently, Lin did "The Pin River Yangtze", 3000 steel pins that shape the Yangtze River topographically. Now Maya Lin is working on the Confluence Project. The Confluence Project is seven small art installations up and down the Columbia River. These are to remind us of the epic journey of Louis and Clark and other events. These are the greatest achievements Maya Lin performed, now age 49.

132004Vietnam War Memorial original design submission by Maya LinMaya Lin [Public domain]
Maya Lin is an amazing hero. She helped honor 5800 people who died in the Vietnam War as well as the 40 people who were killed during the civil rights movement in Montgomery, Alabama. Her memorials healed and reminded people that these lives were lost because of their beliefs and should be treated admirably. Not to mention she showed the world that young women have great ideas too. She also was able to "build with nature" as some of her projects (like the Wave Field) are actually made of recycled or natural materials. Probably the best thing is that she is still working and helping others even now! And, will continue working until the day she dies. All in all, Maya Lin is an incredible hero.

Maya Lin is worthy of "hero" status. She may not have changed the culture completely, but she helped ease the wounds of Vietnam and beautify the United States with simple but meaningful artwork, and is still adding to her list of accomplishments today.

Page created on 4/9/2009 6:26:30 PM

Last edited 3/26/2021 4:27:42 AM

The beliefs, viewpoints and opinions expressed in this hero submission on the website are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the beliefs, viewpoints and opinions of The MY HERO Project and its staff.

Related Links

Maya Lin Website - Visual presentation of her work
MY HERO story on Maya Lin - by Tom
Maya Lin - Academy of Achievement - The Academy of Achievement brings students face-to-face with the extraordinary leaders, thinkers and pioneers who have shaped our world.
National Park Service - The Wall That Heals


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world book. "" Vietnam war memorial". "world book inc., 2007.

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