Artist and designer Maya Lin interprets the natural world through history, politics, and culture, creating a body of work that balances art and architecture. Lin’s installations, studio artworks, architecture, and memorials, such as the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, become a part of the land, merging physical and psychological environments and presenting a new way of seeing the world around us.
In 2009 she was awarded the National Medal of Arts — the nation’s highest honor for artistic excellence. Lin was again awarded in 2016 with the Presidential Medal of Freedom – the nation’s highest civilian honor, presented to those who have made "an especially meritorious contribution to the United States," for her widely acclaimed memorials.
Lin’s memorials address the critical social and historical issues of our time. From the Vietnam Memorial, which she designed as an undergraduate student at Yale, to The Civil Rights Memorial in Alabama and the Women’s Table at Yale, she makes our history part of the landscape.
Lin’s art explores how we experience and relate to landscape, setting up a systematic ordering of the land that is tied to history, memory, time, and language. Her interest in landscape has led to works influenced by topographies and geographic phenomena.
Lin’s work asks the viewer to reconsider nature and the environment at a time when it is crucial to do so. A committed environmentalist, she is working on her last memorial, “What is Missing?,” a cross-platform, global memorial to the planet, located in select scientific institutions, online as a website, and in a book, calling attention to the crisis surrounding biodiversity and habitat loss.
Her architectural projects are largely undertaken at the request of non-profit institutions and include the Museum for Chinese in America (2009) in New York City, the Riggio-Lynch Interfaith Chapel (2004), and Langston Hughes Library (1999) in Tennessee. Current projects include the redesign of the Neilson Library at Smith College. Her designs create a close dialogue between the landscape and built environment, and she is committed to advocating sustainable design solutions in all her works.
Lin has been the subject of numerous solo exhibitions at museums and galleries worldwide, with works in the permanent collections of the National Gallery of Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Museum of Modern Art, and The Smithsonian Institution.
Maya Lin serves on the boards of the Bloomberg Foundation, Museum of Chinese in America, and the What is Missing? Foundation. She is an honorary board member of the Natural Resources Defense Council and is the recipient of the Presidential Design Award and honorary doctorates from Yale and Harvard.
A member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, she has been profiled in TIME, The New York Times Magazine and The New Yorker. The 1996 documentary about her, Maya Lin: A Strong Clear Vision, won the Academy Award for Best Documentary. Her book about her work and creative process, Boundaries, is in its fifth printing with Simon & Schuster. Maya Lin: Topologies, a monograph spanning the past 30 years of her career, was first released in fall 2015 by Skira Rizzoli and is in its second printing.
- Maya Lin talks about the natural world in her art and memorials memorials
- Lin discusses her body of work from her Manhattan studio (2013)
- Maya Lin on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial
- Maya Lin talks about MOCA, her art, and cultural identity
- Maya Lin's Makers Profile
- Maya Lin discusses Wave Field with the New York Times (2008)
- What is Missing?
And we had the great added benefit of a few of our students actually being part of the exhibition installation. How often does a student get such a chance! ”