Kathryn Lin Biography & Facts
Maya Ying Lin (born October 5, 1959) is an American designer and sculptor. In 1981, while an undergraduate at Yale University, she achieved national recognition when she won a national design competition for the planned Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.Lin has designed numerous memorials, public and private buildings, landscapes, and sculptures. Although she is best known for historical memorials, she is also known for environmentally themed works, which often address environmental decline. According to Lin, she draws inspiration from the architecture of nature but believes that nothing she creates can match its beauty.
Maya Lin was born in Athens, Ohio. Her parents emigrated from China to the United States, her father in 1948 and her mother in 1949, and settled in Ohio before Lin was born. Her father, Henry Huan Lin, born in Fuzhou, Fujian, was a ceramist and dean of the Ohio University College of Fine Arts. Her mother, Julia Chang Lin, born in Shanghai, is a poet and a former professor of literature at Ohio University. She is the "half" niece of Lin Huiyin, who was an American-educated artist and poet, and said to have been the first female architect in modern China. Lin Juemin and Lin Yin Ming, both of whom were among the 72 martyrs of the Second Guangzhou uprising, were cousins of her grandfather. Lin Chang-min, a Hanlin of Qing dynasty and the emperor's teacher, Lin Huiyin was his danughter with his wife, while Maya Lin's father Henry HUan Lin was his illegitimate son with his concubine.According to Lin, she "didn't even realize" she was ethnically Chinese until later in life, and that only in her 30s did she acquire an interest in her cultural background.Lin has said that she did not have many friends when growing up, stayed home a lot, loved to study, and loved school. While still in high school she took courses at Ohio University where she learned to cast bronze in the school's foundry. She graduated in 1977 from Athens High School in The Plains, Ohio, after which she attended Yale University where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in 1981 and a Master of Architecture in 1986.
According to Lin, she has been concerned with environmental issues since she was very young, and dedicated much of her time at Yale University to environmental activism. She attributes her interest in the environment to her upbringing in rural Ohio: the nearby Hopewell and Adena Indian burial mounds inspired her from an early age. Noting that much of her later work has focused on the relationship people have with their environment, as expressed in her earthworks, sculptures, and installations, Lin said, "I'm very much a product of the growing awareness about ecology and the environmental movement...I am very drawn to landscape, and my work is about finding a balance in the landscape, respecting nature not trying to dominate it. Even the Vietnam Veterans Memorial is an earthwork. All of my work is about slipping things in, inserting an order or a structuring, yet making an interface so that in the end, rather than a hierarchy, there is a balance and tension between the man-made and the natural."
According to the scholar Susette Min, Lin's work uncovers "hidden histories" to bring attention to landscapes and environments that would otherwise be inaccessible to viewers and "deploys the concept to discuss the inextricable relationship between nature and the built environment". Lin's focus on this relationship highlights the impact humanity has on the environment, and draws attention to issues such as global warming, endangered bodies of water, and animal extinction/endangerment. She has explored these issues in her recent memorial, called What Is Missing?
According to one commentator, Lin constructs her works to have a minimal effect on the environment by utilizing recycled and sustainable materials, by minimizing carbon emissions, and by attempting to avoid damaging the landscapes/ecosystems where she works.In addition to her other activities as an environmentalist, Lin has served on the Natural Resources Defense Council board of trustees.
Vietnam Veterans Memorial
In 1981, at 21 and still an undergraduate student, Lin won a public design competition to design the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, to be built on the National Mall in Washington D.C. Her design, one of 1,422 submissions, specified a black granite wall with the names of 57,939 fallen soldiers carved into its face (hundreds more have been added since the dedication), to be v-shaped, with one side pointing toward the Lincoln Memorial and the other toward the Washington Monument. The memorial was completed in late October 1982 and dedicated in November 1982.According to Lin, her intention was to create an opening or a wound in the earth to symbolize the pain caused by the war and its many casualties. "I imagined taking a knife and cutting into the earth, opening it up, and with the passage of time, that initial violence and pain would heal," she recalled.Her winning design was initially controversial for several reasons: its minimalist design, her lack of professional experience, and her Asian ethnicity. According to one writer, "Some viewed her selection as an affront. They could not understand how a woman, a youth, and a Chinese American could design a memorial for men, for soldiers, and for Americans." Some objected to the exclusion of the surviving veterans' names, while others complained about the dark complexion of the granite, claiming that it expressed a negative attitude towards the Vietnam War. Lin defended her design before the US Congress, and a compromise was reached: The Three Soldiers, a bronze depiction of a group of soldiers and an American flag were placed to the side of Lin's design.Notwithstanding the initial controversy, the memorial has become an important pilgrimage site for relatives and friends of the dead soldiers, many of whom leave personal tokens and mementos in memory of their loved ones. In 2007, an American Institute of Architects poll ranked the memorial No. 10 on a list of America's Favorite Architecture, and it is now one of the most visited sites on the National Mall. Furthermore, it now serves as a memorial for the veterans of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. There is a collection with items left since 2001 from the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, which includes handwritten letters and notes of those who lost loved ones during these wars. There is also a pair of combat boots and a note with it dedicated to the veterans of the Vietnam War, that reads "If your generation of Marines had not come home to jeers, insults, and protests, my generation would not come home to thanks, handshakes and hugs."Lin once said that if the competition had not been held "blind" (with designs submitted by name instead of number), she "never would have won" on account of her ethnicity. Her assertion is supported by the fact that she was harassed after her ethnicity was revea.... Discover the Kathryn Lin popular books. Find the top 100 most popular Kathryn Lin books.