Maya Lin Biography


Birthday: October 5, 1959 (Libra)

Born In: Athens

Maya Lin is an American architect and artist who rose to prominence with her design of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. Most of her artworks ranging from small sculptures displayed in galleries to magnificent large environmental installations seem to take inspiration from the natural features and landscape. Born to Chinese parents who immigrated to United States before her birth, Lin was a reserved child and did not have many friends. She was a bright kid who enjoyed her studies and kept herself entertained through reading, hiking, and working in her father's ceramics studio. After completing high school, she attended Yale University to pursue graduation in architecture and subsequently her best-known work, the design for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., grew out of a class project during her senior year. Later, after earning a master’s degree in architecture, she got involved in artistic endeavors and built another famous memorial for the Civil Rights movement. In an attempt to avoid being typecast as a builder of memorials, she later shifted to other forms of architectural works such as glass sculptures and art installations. In her long and fruitful career, she has received much recognition for her artistic creations and still continues to be an active sculptor and architect
Quick Facts

Also Known As: Maya Ying Lin

Age: 64 Years, 64 Year Old Females

Artists American Women

More Facts

education: Yale University, Yale School of Architecture

awards: Twenty-five Year Award - 2007
AIA Honor Award - 1984

  • 1

    What inspired Maya Lin to design the Vietnam Veterans Memorial?

    Maya Lin was inspired to design the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., after visiting the site as a college student and feeling a strong emotional connection to the veterans and their sacrifices.
  • 2

    How did Maya Lin's design for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial differ from traditional war memorials?

    Maya Lin's design for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial differed from traditional war memorials by its minimalist and contemplative approach, with the names of the fallen soldiers engraved on a black granite wall sunk into the ground.
  • 3

    What controversy surrounded Maya Lin's design for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial?

    Maya Lin's design for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial sparked controversy due to its unconventional and minimalist style, which some critics felt was too stark and lacked traditional patriotic symbolism.
  • 4

    How did Maya Lin's background in architecture influence her approach to design?

    Maya Lin's background in architecture influenced her approach to design by emphasizing simplicity, functionality, and the integration of her structures with the natural environment.
  • 5

    What other notable projects has Maya Lin worked on besides the Vietnam Veterans Memorial?

    Besides the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Maya Lin has worked on various notable projects, including the Civil Rights Memorial in Montgomery, Alabama, and the Wave Field installation at the University of Michigan.
Childhood & Early Life
Maya Lin was born on October 5, 1959, in Athens, Ohio, to Henry Huan Lin, a ceramist and former dean of the Ohio University College of Fine Arts, and his wife, Ming Hui, a professor at the Ohio University.
Her family had migrated to the United States from China in 1949, and finally settled in Ohio in 1958, one year before the birth of Maya. She is the youngest child in her family with an older brother, Tan A. Lin, who grew up to be an English professor and poet.
As a child, she stayed at home most of the time and did not have many friends to interact with. Apart from enjoying regular studies, she also took independent courses from Ohio University and spent her free time casting bronzes in the school foundry.
After finishing high school, she attended the Yale University and graduated in 1981 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Architecture. During her senior year of graduation, she won a public design competition in which she submitted a design for a monument to honor those who fought in the Vietnam War.
In 1986, she completed her post-graduation with an MA in Architecture from Yale University.
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In 1988, she went on to design a monument for the civil rights movement on behalf of the Southern Poverty Law Center. The Civil Rights Memorial was built in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1989.
In 1993, she sculptured ‘The Women’s Table’, which commemorated the coeducation of women at Yale, and also designed ‘Groundswell’, an installation of 43 tons of glass pebbles at the Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus, Ohio.
In 1995, she designed the ‘Wave Field’ at the University of Michigan, in which she reshaped grass-covered terrain to resemble undulating ocean waves.
In 2000, she worked as the artist and architect for the Confluence Project, in which she was commissioned to create a series of seven art installations along the Columbia River and Snake River.
In 2005, she designed the new plaza that anchors the ‘Claire Trevor School of the Arts’ at the University of California, Irvine.
In 2007, she installed ‘Above and Below’, an outdoor sculpture at the Indianapolis Museum of Art in Indiana. The following year, she completed ‘2 x 4 Landscape’, a 30-ton sculpture made of many pieces of wood.
In 2009, she completed her first work of art in Las Vegas named ‘Silver River’, an 84-foot cast of the Colorado River made entirely of reclaimed silver.
In 2013, Lin completed ‘A Fold in the Field’, her largest work to date which was created using 105,000 cubic metres of earth and it covered three hectares.
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Major Works
In 1981, while still an undergraduate, Maya Lin entered a nationwide competition sponsored by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund and created a design for a monument honoring those who had served and died in the Vietnam War. Her award-winning design consisted of a polished black granite V-shaped wall inscribed with the names of the approximately 58,000 men and women who were killed or missing in action.
Awards & Achievements
In 2003, she was honored with the prestigious ‘Finn Juhl Prize’.
In 2005, Lin was elected to The American Academy of Arts and Letters, as well as the National Women's Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls, New York.
In 2005, the American Institute of Architects conferred its ‘25-Year Award’ upon the monument she designed for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund.
In 2009, she was presented with the ‘National Medal of Arts’ by President Barack Obama.
In 2014, she was awarded the ‘Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize’, a $300,000 art prize, to honor her noteworthy contributions to art.
She has also received honorary doctorate degrees from Yale University, Harvard University, Williams College, and Smith College.
Personal Life & Legacy
Maya Lin is married to Daniel Wolf, a New York photography dealer. The couple is blessed with two daughters, India and Rachel.
Facts About Maya Lin
Maya Lin's design for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., was selected through a blind competition when she was only a 21-year-old undergraduate student at Yale University.
In addition to her work as an artist and architect, Maya Lin is also a dedicated environmentalist and has designed projects focused on sustainability and conservation.
Maya Lin has received numerous awards for her contributions to art and architecture, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the United States.
She has expanded her artistic repertoire beyond architecture to include sculpture and installations that explore themes of nature, identity, and memory.
Maya Lin's commitment to social and environmental causes has led her to work on projects that raise awareness about climate change, biodiversity loss, and the importance of preserving natural landscapes.

See the events in life of Maya Lin in Chronological Order

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