Education Resource Center

Maya Lin

Artist-Architech of Light and Lines

Designer of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial


by Jennifer Walker Harvey
illustrated by Dow Phumiruk
Henry Holt & Company



Maya Lin was only 21 when her design for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial was selected to honor those who died in the war. The daughter of immigrants from China, Maya grew up in an artistic family.  Her father worked with clay to make beautiful objects, and her mother worked with words to make poetry.   Growing up, Maya was encouraged to work both with her hands and her mind.  In college, she was fascinated by the patterns of light and lines in all types of architecture, both old and new. During her senior year of college, Maya learned of the contest to design the memorial.   She envisioned a knife slicing open the ground and healing over time to a polished edge covered with the 58,000 names of those who died during the war.  In her entry essay, she wrote that it would be a quiet place to remember those who were lost.  Maya’s entry was chosen from 1,421, many from famous artists and architects. The was a great deal of controversy over this decision; however, the wall was built according to Maya’s specifications.  Over 4 million people visit the wall annually to look for and touch the names of family and friends lost in the war.

Maya continues to produce works of art and architecture, sharing her vision that people should feel part of the work.


Grades K-3.

This entry was posted in Book Review 2017.