In 1979, Congress grants a Vietnam War veterans’ committee the right to build a memorial on the Mall in Washington, D.C., dedicated to American soldiers killed in the conflict in Vietnam. The committee puts the design out for competition convening a blue-ribbon panel of architects, sculptors, and landscape architects to evaluate more than 1,400 submissions. When the winner is announced, no one is more surprised than the student architect herself, Maya Lin, a 20-year-old Yale undergraduate. The panel is moved by the simplicity, honesty, and power of Lin’s design: a V-shaped, sunken wall of black stone, with the names of those killed in action engraved in chronological order. To search out a loved one, a mourner will walk along the monument and find the name among the 57,661 listed. Lin describes the Memorial thus: “I went to see the site. I had a general idea that I wanted to describe a journey…a journey that would make you experience death and where you’d have to be an observer, where you could never really fully be with the dead. It wasn’t going to be something that was going to say, ‘It’s all right, it’s all over,’ because it’s not.”
For her life’s work, Lin was awarded the National Medal of Arts in 2009, and a film about the artist, Maya Lin: A Strong Clear Vision, won the 1994 Oscar for best documentary. Lin has served as a board member of the National Resources Defense Council and a member of the World Trade Center Site Memorial design jury. In 2016, she was honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Barack Obama.
Spotlight: Maya Lin~ https://www.archdaily.com/774717/spotlight-maya-lin