Presidential Lecture Series
Maya Lin
Humanities at Stanford
Maya Lin


A chronological, illustrated catalog of Maya Lin's most significant works

Vietnam Veterans Memorial (VVM) (1980-82), Washington, D.C.

Aligning Reeds (1985), New Haven, Connecticut

Civil Rights Memorial (1988-89), Montgomery, Alabama

Open-Air Peace Chapel (1988-89), Juniata College
Huntingdon, Pennsylvania

Topo (1989-91), Charlotte Sports Coliseum
Charlotte, North Carolina

Eclipsed Time (1989-95), Pennsylvania Station
New York, New York

Women's Table (1990-93), Yale University
New Haven, Connecticut

Weber House (1991-93), Williamstown, Massachusetts

Groundswell (1992-93), Wexner Center for the Arts
Columbus, Ohio

Museum for African Art (1992-93), New York, New York

Wave Field (1993-95), FXB Aerospace Engineering Building
Ann Arbor, Michigan

10 Degrees North (1993-96), Rockefeller Foundation Headquarters
New York, New York

A Shift in the Stream (1995-97), Principal Financial Group Headquarters
Des Moines, Iowa

Reading a Garden (1996-98), Cleveland Public Library
Cleveland, Ohio

Private Duplex Apartment, New York City (1996-98), New York.

Topographic Landscape (1997) (Portable sculpture)

Phases of the Moon (1998) (Portable sculpture)

Avalanche (1998) (Portable sculpture)

Langston Hughes Library (1999), Clinton, Tennessee

Timetable (2000), Stanford University, Stanford, California

the character of a hill, under glass (2000-01), American Express Client Services Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Ecliptic (2001), Grand Rapids, Michigan

Vietnam Veterans Memorial (VVM) (1980-82)
Constitution Gardens, National Mall, Washington, D.C.
Cooper-Lecky Partnership, architect of record; Henry Arnold, landscape architect. Vietnam Veterans Memorial Vietnam Veterans Memorial Vietnam Veterans Memorial

One of the most controversial works of public art of recent times. Maya Lin's design was the unanimous choice of the jury of prominent art and design specialists who judged the VVM competition on behalf of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund (VVMF). But a few veterans, encouraged by conservative politicians, objected to the design's color, siting, and non-representational character. In order to get the Memorial approved for construction, the VVMF was consequently forced to accept the addition of two other elements on the site--a group sculpture by Frederick Hart of three seven-foot bronze figures of Vietnam-era U.S. soldiers, titled Three Fighting Men, and an American flag on a 60-foot pole. The overwhelming acceptance and respect by rank-and-file Vietnam veterans for the Lin Memorial, once it was built, effectively ended the controversy.

Aligning Reeds
West Rock Park, New Haven, Connecticut. Aligning Reeds

An initial, subtle foray into environmental art, created by Lin while she was a Yale graduate student. She placed some aluminum rods among reeds at the bend of a stream. From a distance the rods blend in with the reeds, but from a certain vantage point, the artificial nature of the rods suddenly appears, and it is obvious they are an artist-created intercession in the natural environment.

Civil Rights Memorial
Southern Poverty Law Center, Montgomery, Alabama
Robert Coles, architect. Civil Rights Memorial

Lin's brilliant solution to the problem of engaging the spectator in the course of civil rights events engraved on the monument was the invention of a circular "table," covered in a film of water.
"The water is carefully controlled; its movement across the top of the table slowed to an almost imperceptible rate: it appears still until a visitor touches the surface, interacting with the piece.... I wanted to completely capture the power of the water--keeping its flow in careful check so that its energy seems to emanate from within the stone." (Lin, Maya Ying, Boundaries, New York, Simon & Schuster, 2000, p.4:29)

Open-Air Peace Chapel
Juniata College, Huntingdon, Pennsylvania. Open-Air Peace Chapel

Two related stone circles on a rural hilltop site: one in the open, with a 40-foot diameter of rough-cut stone, designed as a place for group activity; the other, a few hundred feet away in a secluded wood, made of a single flat stone with a four-foot diameter and meant for solitary meditation.

Charlotte Sports Coliseum, Charlotte, North Carolina
Henry Arnold, landscape architect Topo

Earthworks and topiary transform the median of the 1600-foot approach to the Coliseum into the site for an imaginary giant-sized game.
"We were able to find very large, spherical Burford holly trees that had overgrown someone's property and we transplanted fourteen of them. This was a piece that mixed a much more formal topiary with something very freehand and playful." (Cooper Union School of Art, Maya Lin: Fall 2000..., New York, Cooper Union, 2000, p.20)

Eclipsed Time
Pennsylvania Station, New York, New York. Eclipsed Time

A ceiling clock whose face gradually darkens between noon and midnight, and then slowly brightens again in the morning hours.
"...I thought of creating a solar eclipse in the ceiling--trying to bring into the subterranean passage a more natually occurring phenomenon." (Cooper Union School of Art, Maya Lin: Fall 2000..., New York, Cooper Union, 2000, p.18)

Women's Table
Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut
Steve Fisher of Edward Larrabee Barnes and John M.Y. Lee, architect. Yale Women's Table

Granite water table honors the women of Yale with a spiral, engraved timeline that records the number of women in Yale programs from the founding of the University in the early 18th century through 1993.

Weber House
Williamstown, Massachusetts
With William Bialosky, architect. Weber Residence

Lin's first residential commission was influenced by her interest in Japanese house design. "The plan is centered around a rock garden, with low, controlled views out to the gardens as well as to the surrounding mountains....I did not see the house as a space divided into separate rooms but as a series of free-flowing spaces that seamlessly connect one to the next...." (Lin, Maya Ying, Boundaries, New York, Simon & Schuster, 2000, p.10:07)

Wexner Center for the Arts
Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio. Groundswell

Wave forms sculpted from recycled safety glass fill certain unused but visible interior spaces in Peter Eisenman's Wexner Center. Created during Lin's year as visual artist-in-residence at the Center.
"I was trying to go back to something I do in my art studio which is to be completely spontaneous. To not think about what I'm going to make but to automatically go out and make it. ...I just ordered 43 tons of car glass. And they showed up and I had the time it took to unload the glass to make these pieces." (Cooper Union School of Art, Maya Lin: Fall 2000..., New York, Cooper Union, 2000, p.21)

Museum for African Art
New York, New York
David Hotson, associated architect. Museum for African Art

"Maya Lin's project for the new home of the [museum] involved the interior remodeling of two floors in an old loft building. The design of the spaces of the museum took the form of a path, an educational passage, in which the viewer is immersed in a journey of light and dark, night and day. Lin wanted to create an empathic environment free from rigid geometric order. The result was a fluid movement through the building, with its own sense of rhythms and modulations." (Rogers, Sarah J., Maya Lin: Public/Private, Columbus, Ohio, Wexner Center for the Arts, Ohio State University, 1994, p.35)

Wave Field
FXB Aerospace Engineering Building
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan
Alice Simsar, arts consultant. Wave Field

The idea for this piece, in which a tract of land next to the Building was sculpted into forms reminiscent of water waves, was suggested to Lin from the illustrations in a book on fluid mechanics lent to her by one of the Michigan engineering professors.

10 Degrees North (1993-96)
Rockefeller Foundation Headquarters
New York, New York, KPF Interiors, architects. 10 Degrees North

Interior environmental installation of bamboo walls, rough-hewn wooden benches, and stone tables, centered by a square water table with a relief map of the world carved into the stone. The title of the piece refers to the geographical location from which the projections controlling the size of the map's land masses were made--10 degrees north of the equator, rather than at the equator, as is the normal practice. Lin feels that projections taken at the equator are seriously distortive because they make Asia and North America look much larger than they really are.

A Shift in the Stream
Principal Financial Group Headquarters, Des Moines, Iowa
Herbert Lewis Kruse Blunck, architects. A Shift in the Stream

An interior installation that makes no attempt to coexist comfortably with its surroundings, as Lin's pieces usually do. Introduces trickles of water down the two-story-high glass walls of the building's lobby. The water is then collected at the bottom and routed along the lobby wall through a trough behind a long, jagged opening, like a running crack.
"As you walk closer to the wall, you hear the soft murmur of a continuous stream of water flowing in the wall's crevice, into which you can just fit your hand to touch the water....The integration of the artwork with its site is seamless, yet it is a subtle intrusion. I see the work as a subversion of the architectural space. It has also led me to a new group of sculptures that will be a series of landscape reliefs cut directly into the walls." (Lin, Maya Ying, Boundaries, New York, Simon & Schuster, 2000, p.6:31, 6:35)

Reading a Garden
Cleveland Public Library, Cleveland, Ohio
In collaboration with Tan Lin. Reading a Garden

An interactive outdoor garden space containing a melding of Maya Lin's sculptural environment with the abstract poetry of Tan Lin, her brother.
"I had been waiting for a library [commission] in order to work with a writer to create a landscape of words." (Cooper Union School of Art, Maya Lin: Fall 2000..., New York, Cooper Union, 2000, p.27)
"The idea is to create a pamphlet that would be part book, part map, part record of a walk taken through the park, and part visual drawing with words rubbed in or written in. It would tell a story of each person's visit to the Cleveland Public Library and each record would be different." --from Tan Lin's part of the 1996 proposal for the work. (Lin, Maya Ying, Boundaries, New York, Simon & Schuster, 2000, p.6:38)

Private Duplex Apartment, New York City
New York, New York
David Hotson, associated architect. Norton Residence

"In the design of a private residence in Manhattan, the space needed to be flexible. It had to feel intimate and comfortable for one person, yet had to 'expand' to accommodate his entire family on those occasions when they were all in town....I began to think of how domestic architecture has evolved from a very traditional idea of family, work, and home. The way we live today is very different from the way we lived a hundred years ago. I wanted to create a living space that was responsive to our changed way of living....I envisioned a home that could fold in on itself, like origami or a transformer toy, changing its shape or function depending upon how it was used. I saw it as a quiet retreat from the city, where light would filter through the entire apartment via translucent walls." (Lin, Maya Ying, Boundaries, New York, Simon & Schuster, 2000, p.10:16)

Topographic Landscape
Particle board Topographic Landscape

Phases of the Moon
Beeswax Phases of the Moon

Shattered safety glass Avalanche

A selection of Lin's "studio sculptures"--portable pieces that have circulated in recent exhibitions.
"Just as I have explored ideas about landscape in my large-scale artworks, I have simultaneously explored these issues in a series of small-scale sculptures in my studio, which I see as the quiet aesthetic undercurrent or soul of my work. I have referred to these small-scale sculptures as 'mute objects,' and I have been making them as long as I have been making the larger public works." (Lin, Maya Ying, Boundaries, New York, Simon & Schuster, 2000, p.8:02)

Langston Hughes Library
Haley Farm, Clinton, Tennessee
Martella Associates, associated architects. Langston Hughes Library Langston Hughes Library

The Children's Defense Fund now owns the former Alex Haley Farm and uses it as a headquarters and conference center. Lin was commissioned to remodel a barn on the property to accommodate a 5000-volume reference library on civil rights and children's advocacy and a small book store.
"The idea was to maintain the integrity and character of the old barn yet introduce a new inner layer. The integration of old and new allowed me to leave exposed and untouched the main body of the building yet build the library within the existing structure." (Lin, Maya Ying, Boundaries, New York, Simon & Schuster, 2000, p.10:24)

Timetable (2000)
Stanford University, Stanford, California. Timetable

Lin's Stanford sculpture, located in the plaza in front of the Packard Electrical Engineering Building, is another of her works in the "water table" series. This one contains a complex clock in its 16-ton granite table that keeps track of time in several zones. The piece was commissioned for Stanford by Helen Bing.
"With our ability to communicate on the internet, what time is it as we work over multiple time zones? This idea led me to think about a clock that would deal with a more Universal Time Coordinate (UTC)." (Cooper Union School of Art, Maya Lin: Fall 2000..., New York, Cooper Union, 2000, p.18)

the character of a hill, under glass
American Express Client Services Center
Minneapolis, Minnesota. Wintergarden Am Ex 1 Wintergarden Am Ex 2 Wintergarden Am Ex 3

"The garden is inside a three-story glass box in the front of the lobby, visible from the street. Lin turned part of the exterior wall into a waterfall, which freezes in the winter, changing the view out from the lobby and the view in from the street. There are trees, and stone benches, which are echoed in the landscaping that Lin has designed outside the building. The distinctive feature of Lin's garden is the floor, which has been warped so that it has the contours of a hill (or a burial mound). The floorboards are the same as you would find in a bowling alley--that is, they read as level--but they have been curved to create rises and dips." (Menand, Louis, "Profiles: the Reluctant Memorialist," The New Yorker, v.78, no.18 (July 8, 2002), p.65)

Ecliptic (2001)
Grand Rapids, Michigan
Quennell Rothschild & Partners, landscape architects.
Ecliptic Park 1 Ecliptic Park 2 Ecliptic Park 3 Ecliptic Park 4

A 3.5-acre park in a section of downtown Grand Rapids that the city government hopes to revitalize.
"The heart of [the park] is a skating rink that converts into an amphitheater in the warmer months and is lit by tiny fiber-optic lights, which are embedded in its surface and laid out in a pattern representing a constellation of stars. Lin also designed two small service buildings..., a pair of fountains, and short wandering paths through landscaped mounds of grass that rise and fall in waves about three feet high." (Hawthorne, Christopher, "Maya Lin, America's Newest Urbanist," Metropolis, March, 2002, p.4)

Text by Alex Ross, Stanford University (c)2002.


PHOTO CREDITS for images that appear throughout this site:

- Aerial view of VVM, courtesy of the National Park Service. Other views courtesy of Chris Lark.
- Civil Rights Memorial, courtesy of the Southern Poverty Law Center, John O'Hagan.
- Topo, courtesy of Henry Arnold.
- Eclipsed Time, courtesy of David Regen.
- Women's Table, courtesy of Norman McGrath.
- Weber Residence, courtesy of Norman McGrath.
- Groundswell, courtesy of Wexner Center, Darnell Lautt.
- Museum for African Art, courtesy of Paul Warchol.
- Wave Field, courtesy of Warren C. Eaton.
- 10 Degrees North, courtesy of Norman McGrath.
- A Shift in the Stream, courtesy of Cameron Campbell.
- Private Duplex Apartment, New York City, courtesy of Eric Schiller.
- Topographic Landscape, Phases of the Moon, and Avalanche courtesy of Southeast Center for Contemporary Art, Jackson Smith.
- Langston Hughes Library images, courtesy of Tim Hursley.
- Timetable, courtesy of Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts, Stanford University.
- the character of a hill, under glass images, courtesy of American Express Financial Advisors, Peter Wong.
- Ecliptic images, courtesy of Frey Foundation, Suchitar Van (night skating rink image only), and Balthazar Korab.
- All other images of Maya Lin's works, courtesy of the Maya Lin Studio.


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