“I like to think of my work as creating a private conversation with each person, no matter how public each work is and no matter how many people are present.” – Maya Lin
(1959- ) Maya Lin was an undergraduate archaeology student at Yale University when in 1981 she entered a contest for a Vietnam war memorial design. She was selected as the winner, amid protests from a small but vocal group over the minimalistic, non-grandeur remembrance. Her design became two walls of polished black granite set below grade on which the names of more than 58,000 Americans were carved and arranged chronologically, according to the year of death or disappearance. Today, the Vietnam War memorial garners over 10,000 visitors daily and is often remarked for its powerful, abstract effect. She has balanced artistry, with a focus in landscapes, and architecture throughout her career, including a feature at the Pace Gallery in New York City. She has long been attracted to social issues and addressed them in her memorials, such as the Civil Rights Memorial in Alabama and the Women’s Table at Yale University. She was awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Barack Obama, and she continues to work today in her field of art and architecture.