Maya Lin, the daughter of Chinese immigrants, was born in small-town America. She didn’t even begin to appreciate her Asian heritage until after she became famous and started to develop her own artistic sensibility.
Lin broke onto the American scene as a college senior, when she won a national competition to design the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. She was soon caught in a cultural clash, and embroiled in controversy over a war that was fought when she was a child. But Lin stood up to the politicians in Washington and the critics who swirled around them. And when it was all over, the country had a national shrine where it could heal its wounds. To this day, the Vietnam Memorial is the most visited monument in the United States. As one art critic said, “Maya Lin is an American girl from the Midwest, but she is Chinese in her bones.” And that mixture—the best of both East and West—has brought a new light to the American landscape. Maya Lin is an engrossing portrait of this extraordinary artist, whose use of her cultural heritage brings strength, drama, and emotional impact to her work.