timeline

born 1959

Maya Lin was still in college when she was tapped to create a memorial for the Vietnam War in 1981 ~ a fact that surprised the deciding officials who expected an established architect based on her proposal. After being selected, Maya faced controversy about everything...from her design to her Asian heritage. But, 3 decades later, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial is a national shrine. More than 3 million people visit Maya's reflective black wall annually, to touch or trace the names of loved ones.

Since then, Maya has designed other memorials like the Civil Rights monument in Alabama. But, her focus has shifted to art and architecture, much of it reflecting her love of landscape + environmentalism.

bio bits

her quotes

all quotes by Maya Lin (16)

"I hate war, all war."

Yale Senior a Vietnam Memorial and a Few Ironies | june 1981

"To fly, we have to have resistance."

The Wave Field | 1998

"As an artist, you live in your own world. The one thing you get out of that is an obsessive love of control. The biggest thing about having a child is learning to let go. That's the joy."

At Home with Maya Lin | may 1998

"The process I go through in art and architecture, I actually want it to be almost childlike."

The Maya Lin Interview | 2000

"We are now seeing incredible losses of other species, occurring in large part from habitat destruction as we expand and grow into more and more territory. Experts have called it the sixth largest extinction the world has seen and the only one caused by one species, humankind."

Reflections on Working Towards Peace | 2000

"I don't think you can find a reason for everything you make."

Becoming American Personal Journeys: Interview with May Lin | march 2003

"There's no way of really saying: 'If A, then B, or A plus B equals C in creativity.' The true strength of the creative arts is that you allow yourself to think about something. Then how it finds its way in your mind to the surface through your hands to—whether it's paint or sculpture—is intuited."

Becoming an American Personal Journeys: Interview with Maya Lin | march 2003

"Your great fear in art is that it's never guaranteed you're going to get that next idea. And there's always the fear that the idea you just made that you really, really love, you'll never be able to do it again."

Becoming an American Personal Journeys: Interview with Maya Lin | march 2003

"For all your past and all your background, sometimes you go through periods where you don't have an idea. And you just have to believe you're gonna break through that."

Becoming an American Personal Journeys: Interview with Maya Lin | march 2003

"Art is about the non-literal connection...if it can be understood and explained, it will not have its own life."

Becoming American Personal Journey: Interview with Maya Lin | march 2003

"There is so much beauty that science has unveiled that we don't call 'art.'"

The Collector: Maya Lin | february 2010

"You do a lot of research. You put all that research aside. And you wake up with a moment's inspiration."

Maya Lin | january 2012

"The fact that 40 to 70 percent of declines have occurred in some of our top songbirds in our lifetime, literally that means that the landscape of sounds that we heard as children has changed drastically. So, that is missing."

Maya Lin: A Memorial to A Vanishing Natural World | june 2012

"If I can get you to look at something afresh, maybe you will pay closer attention."

Maya Lin: A Memorial to A Vanishing Natural World | june 2012

"I love rethinking what things are, changing assumptions—so what if a monument, which we normally think of as being singular and static, can exist in many places simultaneously?"

Maya Lin: A Memorial to A Vanishing Natural World | june 2012

"I don’t believe art necessarily has to be any one thing. In fact, if we all felt inclined to have to do that, I think it would be a disaster for art."

Q & A: Maya Lin on Saving the Planet through Art | july 2014
  • Quotabelle profile
  • Maya Lin

curated with care by Kathleen Murray {september 2014}