Thursday, March 4, 2010

Maya Lin honored with National Medal of the Arts

(pic via TPM)

On February 26th the President presented the National Medals of the Humanities and the Arts. One recipient stood out to me, Maya Lin, as I was just recently reading about her and her accomplishments. Lin is an architect and artist who crafted the famous Vietnam Veterans and Civil Rights Memorials. It was a reminder that there are monumental differences in our current President to his predecessor by his choices.

In 1981 Lin won a "blind" judging for the Vietnam Veteran Memorial design contest. When she was announced as the winning designer for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial at the age of 21, she came under heavy criticism and harassment for being Asian-American. Ross Perot, the infamous presidential candidate referred to her as an "eggroll" and she was forced to defend her design. Born Chinese American in Ohio, Lin was surprised and effected by the bigoted reaction to her and her design stating "she didn't even realize" she was Chinese until later in life (also documented in Yellow: Race in America Beyond Black and White by Frank H. Wu). She has since blossomed as an artist and currently operates out of her own studio in New York City.

If you have had the chance to visit the Vietnam Veterans Memorial then you know the overwhelming emotional effect it evokes. The design in its simplicity allows the visitor to face the names of all 58,261 fallen soldiers. Lin wanted the memorial to stand out as a "wound" in the earth as a symbol of the loss of life in Vietnam. To this day it is adorned with flowers and visited daily by families across the United States.

Lee Teeter's painting reflects what many feel when visiting the memorial.

Congratulations to Maya Lin. Well deserved.

I am Frank Chow and I approved this message

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