Stay up to date with the latest from MAKERS delivered straight to your inbox. Sign up for new stories from trailblazing women, a big dose of inspiration, and exclusive MAKERS content.

Newsletter Confirmation

Thank you for joining! Please check your inbox for our special welcome letter
with exclusive updates from MAKERS.


Designing Memorials

Designing Memorials

More From Maya

In this video

Tagged as

Lin on her series of major memorial commissions and her approach to the past.

Maya 's Biography

Artistic Crush: Robert Smithson after seeing his Site/Non-Site at the Whitney Museum of American Art.
First Job: Working in the sewing department of a five and dime shop called Murphy's Mart.
An Apple Not Far from the Tree: The daughter of a Dean of Fine Arts and Literature Professor, Lin was a "bookish" child, casting bronzes by age 16.
Environmentalist Roots: She traces her environmentalism to growing up during the fight for the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts and to constantly roaming the woods that surrounded her Athens, Ohio home.

In nearly three decades of practice, Maya Lin has completed large site-specific art installations, intimate studio works, residential and institutional architecture, and, of course, memorials. It’s a varied oeuvre that draws equally on her training as an artist and as an architect. Lin was a Yale undergraduate when she won the blind competition for design of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on Washington DC’s National Mall. At 21, she became the youngest architect and first woman, to design a memorial on the National Mall. It was a design that flew in the face of all conventions –  a black granite wall, to be set in the earth as a gash, inscribed the names of all those lost. The selection sparked bitter opposition from veterans' groups, but once constructed, the objections faded. It was a new kind of tribute, born of a new sensibility, and is now seen as a benchmark in memorial architecture.
Lin’s subsequent work has grappled with identity, spirit and the natural world. In 2009 she installed Storm King Wavefield, a permanent site-specific outdoor work for the Storm King Art Center in Mountainville, NY. A committed environmentalist, she is at work on her last memorial, What is Missing? a multi-sited artwork that raises awareness about the current crisis surrounding biodiversity and habitat loss.

Related Videos

Lisa Stone
Lisa Stone
Blogger & Entrepreneur

Lisa Stone is the CEO and Co-Founder of the award-winning social hub BlogHer. Stone left a traditional journalism career at CNN for the internet in 1997 and has not looked back sin...

Barbara Walters
Barbara Walters
First Woman Co-Anchor of Network Evening News

Barbara Walters is easily America’s most celebrated interviewer who, in May 2013, announced she would retire from TV journalism in 2014. She has spoken with more statesmen an...

Lauri Burns
Lauri Burns
Teen Advocate

Lauri Burns is founder of the Teen Project, a non-profit organization that provides support for teens transitioning out of foster care. Having grown up in turmoil and abuse, Burns ...

Carol Burnett
Carol Burnett
First Woman Variety Show Host

A child of Hollywood, but not of means, Carol Burnett had to fight her way into the playwright program at UCLA. An acting class was a requirement and Burnett would always remember ...