Let’s get this side comment out of the way: Maya Lin is gorgeous, partly, well mainly, due to her articulation. That smooth, articulate, educated auditory sensation is highly attractive.
Thirty years after creating a new visual language for mourning with the Vietnam Veterans Memorial design, Lin uses the same sense of meditative dignity in her new works. The works engage the audience with the environment, featuring geographic forms and natural phenomena reinterpreted as physical objects. The Carnegie Museum of Art, home of her new exhibition, comment her works “embrace architecture, sculpture, nature, and ecology, taking a truly original approach to landscape.”
Silver River – Hudson
True to her minimalist style her new works are “imaginative re-creations of natural forms transformed into objects of contemplation.” There are particleboard blocks that reflect a pass in the Rocky Mountains, jagged casts of recycled molten silver tracing the flow of waterways, and layers of sculpted birch plywood that follow contours of the Caspian and Red seas.
Blue Lake Pass
Suzanne LaBarre, senior editor at Co.Design, noted in her article Maya Lin’s Rallying Cry Since The Vietnam Memorial: The Environment: “A winding vein of silver that represents the embattled Colorado River isn’t just a beautiful art object, it’s a rallying cry: Defend the earth, or one day way too soon, all that will be left of these landscapes will be the art they inspired…”
As an undergrad at age 21, Lin won the design competition for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. In an interview with the Academy of Achievement she described her design process for the memorial: “I try to think of a work as an idea without a shape. […] Instead, what I try to do is -for two to three months- read, research, understand anything about the site,” the physical site, the cultural, historical, who is coming, what the needs are, and what needs to be done. The most important need for this memorial she thought, “was the acknowledgment of a loss.” Deliberately, she avoided reading about the Vietnam War as not to eclipse the veterans. “The politics were irrelevant to what this memorial was.”
After research she visited the site. “So you put all that analytic science away and allow the art side to come out.”
“And it turns out a lot of my works deal with a passage, which is about time. Because I don’t see anything that I do as a static object in space. It has to exist as a journey in time.”