Maya Lin’s Memorial on Freedom

Maya Lin

I love reading quotes from people I admire. I was once told that you are drawn to people who possess the same characteristics that are within yourself or aspire to cultivate; so, reading quotes has become a way of inner reflection as well as provoking thought and dialogue.

Maya Lin has not only been an inspiration to me as a female, Asian-American architect, but also as someone who approaches life with an artist’s mind and heart. She won the competition for the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial because of her unique interpretation of life, war, and freedom. Here are some quotes from the artist on her thought process when designing memorials. Each quote is separate and in no particular order.

Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington DC

When I was building the Vietnam Memorial, I never once asked the veterans what it was like in the war, because from my point of view, you don’t pry into other people’s business. – Maya Lin

I deliberately did not read anything about the Vietnam War because I felt the politics of the war eclipsed what happened to the veterans. The politics were irrelevant to what this memorial was. – Maya Lin

I started studying what the nature of a monument is and what a monument should be. And for the World War III memorial I designed a futile, almost terrifying passage that ends nowhere. – Maya Lin

Maya Lin's Conceptual Drawings for the Memorial

If we can’t face death, we’ll never overcome it. You have to look it straight in the eye. Then you can turn around and walk back out into the light. – Maya Lin

To me, the American Dream is being able to follow your own personal calling. To be able to do what you want to do is incredible freedom. – Maya Lin

How do you interpret freedom? Are you living it? Are you allowing others to live theirs?

You can learn more about Maya Lin from the academy award-winning documentary “Maya Lin-A Strong Clear Vision” or visit her website for a real treat.

Filed Under: Thoughts from the Artisans

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