The tempest that erupted over Maya Lin’s winning entry for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial design competition was one of the opening salvos of the “culture wars” that are still being fought today. A career that began in controversy has evolved to encompass much more than memorials and buildings, and challenged the boundaries between Art and Architecture. Ms. Lin’s works grow out of intense study and research, throwing that away and waiting for inspiration. She is passionate about the environment and the relationship between art and landscapes, and, she has a very inquiring mind. Her “earth works” are very large, but are designed to be harmonious with their settings, and alter the viewer’s awareness of the landscape without disrupting its nature. The designs often change after work begins on a new project as Lin responds to how the developing piece interacts with the site. Maya Lin also creates sculptures on a smaller scale and has had numerous successful gallery shows.
The controversy over the Vietnam Memorial died down, it was built, and is now a top attraction in Washington, D.C. Her visit to Santa Barbara, sponsored by UCSB’s Arts & Lectures program, included a formal lecture and a seminar (co-presented by UCSB History of Art & Architecture) with UCSB architecture students and the public.