I remember why I wrote that short paper on Maya Lin for my Introduction to Architecture course in college. I wrote it because I admired Lin’s resiliency during the moments leading up to and after the completion of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC. I was also interested in Maya Lin’s commitment to the environment and how it manifested itself in her work as an architect and artist.
In a much anticipated talk part of the Lowell Lecture Series: Common Ground and Building Boston at the Boston Public Library on Thursday night, Maya Lin talked about her body of work, including her best known work to date, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. A 2009 Medal of Arts awardee by President Barack Obama, Lin is working on her final memorial titled What is Missing?—a project that will exist as multi-sited installations, as a website and as a virtual and physical book. This final memorial will focus on species and places that have gone extinct or will most likely disappear within our lifetime because of mankind.
In concluding her lecture, Lin asked Bostonians to contribute to the memorial by assisting in the documentation of the city’s ecological history. By adding a personal memory about a species that has diminished or disappeared to the What is Missing? project, Lin and many other collaborators are trying to track an ecological history of planet Earth. The goal isn’t to depress people as Lin said, but rather to make them aware of what used to be here and that if one gives nature a chance, it will come back on its own.
Unfortunately, no questions from the audience were taken, but if you missed the lecture, it will be made available on the Boston Public Library’s Youtube site. In spite of not hearing in detail more about her process and her struggles as an architect, I still consider her one of my design heroes.
Thumbnail photo courtesy of Chester Higgins Jr./The New York Times.