Designer Crush: Guess Who???

Imagine that you designed one of the most well known, most recognized and the most visited memorial, before you graduated from college.  How would you deal with the pressure and expectation level for your next project?  Would you be doomed to crash and burn, like the young starlets of Hollywood, that burn brightly and explode into oblivion? How could you possibly take your second built project to the next level, when your first, far surpassed any existing project?

There is a designer who did just that (minus the crash and burn part). This designer won a public contest held for the design of the memorial and continues to burn bright. Here is the winning concept for the memorial. 

Can you guess what it is or who designer is?  Initially, its selection was controversial, but now it is one of our nations most visited memorials.

Click on the "Get the full Dose" link below to see the installation and to learn more about this designer's newest, AMAZING & INSPIRING project.

The submission was for the design of Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the designer was Maya Lin.  The design was controversial, not only because it was an unconventional and non-traditional design for a war memorial, but many people opposed the design and harassed Maya Lin because of her Asian heritage. Lin had to defend her design in front of Congress.

I will admit, I wasn't a big fan of this memorial. But, once learned the concept, I had an AHA! moment and fell in love.

Lin wanted to create a wound in the earth to symbolize the gravity of the loss of the soldiers. The black granite wall is V-shaped, with one side pointing to Lincoln Memorial and the other to the Washington Monument. The black cut-stone masonry wall, with the names of 58,261 fallen soldiers carved into its face.  "The Vietnam memorial is a place where something happens within the viewer. It's like reading a book." Lin purposefully had the names etched ragged right to look like a page from a book.  A bronze statue of a group of soldiers and an American flag adjacent to the wall was added to the design as a compromise to Congress. (PS- this post is ragged right instead of my usual justify, in honor of Maya.)

Even in the 80's, Lin expressed concern for the environment and the impact humans have made on earth.  She saw the Vietnam Veterans Memorial"not as an object placed into the earth but as a cut in the earth that has then been polished, like a geode. Interest in the land and concern about how we are polluting the air and water of the planet are what make me want to travel back in geologic time-to witness the shaping of the earth before man."(Smithsonian Magazine, August 1996.)

Much of Lin's art and designs express her deep connection with the environment. She was trained as an artist and architect, and her sculptures, parks, monuments, and architectural projects are linked by her ideal of making a place for individuals within the landscape.

 The Wave Field, Ann Arbor, MI, 50 grass waves over 10,000 sq. feet
Topologies,  1999
One of the pieces from the Bodies of Water series

2 x 4 Landscape, 2006,  Systematic Landscapes

Blue Lake Pass, 2006, Systematic Landscapes

And now for the Maya Lin's latest and greatest

Two weeks agp, Earth Day was celebrated & Maya Lin, who is often referred to as a "memorialist" since much of her work consists of memorials, officially announced her last memorial: What is Missing. 
What Is Missing Foundation's mission is to "create, through science-based artworks, an awareness about the present sixth mass extinction of species, connect this with the loss of species to habitat degradation and loss, and emphasizes that by preventing deforestation, we can both reduce carbon emissions and protect species and habitats."

What Is Missing is a wake up call and a call to action. It is designed to build awareness, provide hope, and give purpose.  This is a multimedia project and collaboration of artists, writers, scientists and environmental advocates.

This memorial is not just for extinct species, but for the species we never knew existed and lost. This collaborative memorial is dedicated to bring awareness to the current crisis surrounding biodiversity and habitat loss. So far, over 70 videos have been created for Maya's last memorial.

I urge you to visit Watch some of the videos, view some of the art, read the articles, learn something, and pass it on. Let's hope her last memorial's impact is as deep and as strong as her first and the controversy, non-existent.

If you find Maya Lin's work as inspiring as I do:
  1. Please visit Maya Lin Studio
  2. Watch this video: ART:21, Identity from PBS.  Features an interview fw/ Maya Lin:Artists address the idea of identity by questioning commonly held assumptions about stereotypes, self-awareness, portraiture, and what it means to be an artist.
  3. Read her Biography, see her at work on PBS's Artists in the 21st Century site.

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