At the tender age of 21, Maya Lin was thrust into the spotlight when, as a course requirement, she submitted the winning design for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. In a competition with 1420 entries, the Yale architectural student's work ignited a national debate by veterans, politicians, artists and critics. The monument has since become the most visited work of contemporary public art in the U. S., a place of pilgrimage and healing.
Lin has designed other works addressing current social and political issues: the Civil Rights Memorial in Montgomery, Alabama, and the Women's Table at Yale University, a tribute to its alumnae. A recent survey of her sculpture and architectural designs at the Wexner Center for the Arts included Groundswell, a permanent installation created with 43 tons of glass.
Coming from what one critic called "the most creatively brilliant family," Maya Lin has refused to choose between architecture and sculpture. She explains, "Sculpture to me is like poetry, and architecture is like prose."