Lin shows art, advocates environmental awareness

By Saj Sri-Kumar

Architect Maya Lin spoke about her artwork and environmental activism in a speech to the Upper School on Monday. Lin described her large-scale outdoor sculptures.

“I’m drawn to social, political and cultural issues,” Lin told the audience.

Many of Lin’s works involved working with the natural environment in a particular area. One of her larger works, the restoration of Lewis and Clark’s trail throughout the Pacific Northwest, involved moving parking lots and buildings to make the landscape resemble what it looked like when Lewis and Clark first explored the area.

“As an artist, I’m hopefully getting you to realize what’s missing,” she said.

Lin did not discuss her most well-known work, the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, referring to it only as a “student project.”

A large portion of Lin’s speech was dedicated to her environmental activism project, named “What is Missing?” She referred to the project as her “fifth and final memorial.” The project seeks to reverse the trend of mass extinctions among many species in the wild by reducing human impact on habitats.

“It’s an issue of land use and consumption,” she said.

Lin was the 11th speaker of the Brown Family Speaker series, which was established in 2000 by Abbott and Linda Brown (Russell ’94, David ’96) to bring a notable speaker to the school each year.

A reception was held after the assembly in Feldman-Horn Art Gallery, where copies of Lin’s book were available for purchase. Despite the surplus of seats available, students who were not enrolled in an advanced art class were prohibited from attending or purchasing copies of the book.