Maya Lin — A Strong Clear VisionSeptember 14, 2010 at 7:06 AM | Posted in Art, Growing up | Leave a comment
Tags: Maya Lin, Vietnam Veterans War Memorial Wall
Before I finally saw the immediately famous Vietnam Veterans War Memorial Wall I wondered what my reaction would be. I grew up with Vietnam and it was the central fact of my generation. But for all that, I was not touched directly by the war. Due to college deferments and then getting #299/365 in the first lottery, I was never drafted and never for a moment considered enlisting. Looking back this doesn’t seem fair to me but it is easy to look back as an old man and be brave about things that will never happen.
I got the chills as I approached those black walls, before I could read the names. Then as I stood in the angle where those first names appear, those that died first and on the adjacent wall where the last are carved, the overwhelming weight of their sacrifice and the grief of their families came over me.
Maya Lin was a 21 year-old student at Yale when her design was accepted for a Memorial to the Vietnam Veterans. The work was very controversial back then as true masterpieces often are. She has gone on to create other powerful, eternal-seeming works like her Civil Rights monument with water streaming over Martin Luther King’s words, in Alabama.
I strongly recommend to you the documentary (available from Netflix) Maya Lin — A Strong Clear Vision. We have a true genius in our midst whose works are available to all of us. The documentary, like Lin herself, not only gives us the art but it gives us a sense of the way things were — and an idea of how they should be.