My Opinion About the Vietnam Veterans Memorial by Maya Lin
I strongly believe that the appropriateness of the Vietnam War memorial is completely acceptable in Washington D.C. because the heart is what counts, it does not matter of the size or the position in which the buildings are placed. It lists the names of all the brave soldiers who fought and died to achieve peace to save its citizens from danger. Though I do not support the Vietnam War by any means, my condolences and best wishes go out to all the 58,000 soldiers who risked their life to protect not only their own citizens, but their country. The dark black color represents their sacrifice during the war and contrasts it with the white text which depicts strength, unity, and serenity that through all the turbulent times, America will remain strong and heal has one binding nation. The effects were devastating as it caused rebellion and agony towards those people who were strongly against placing soldiers in danger and peril.
Mrs. Lin was awarded first place for her effort for her memorial concept and as long as people continue to respect the place as a cemetery for veteran soldiers everything will be fine, however disrespecting such a valued place should not be permitted at any costs. She was voted best out of 1,421 entries submitted in the intense art competition. While it is true that some critics can successfully point out that black epitomizes the color of death and insults Americans by losing the war through interpreting the resolution as a low-spirited failure, however the architect Maya Lin had good intentions and wanted to show the citizens that her purpose was actually to establish that Americans need a heroic national memorial commemorated to those whose relatives that may have served during the war. White may represent purity, but ultimately it is the objective of peace that counts.
President Reagan has referred to the nation’s Vietnam conflict as a just cause”. I anticipate that he will unite the nation through the Vietnam speech and avoid another catastrophe as exemplified in the conflict to stop Communist insurgents in North Korea led by Ho Chi Minh. I led the moment of silence to respect and appreciate their efforts to keep generations of Americans safe. Without their contributions, no security would be provided and civilians wouldn’t be safe, therefore as long as the monument was built for moral purposes, the actions taken by the architects who built it is permissible.
In conclusion, although the opposing viewpoint develops statements that can be debatable, on the contrary the color of the Memorial does not define Maya Lin’s efforts to pay tribute to soldiers.
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial by Maya Lin
The Most Visited Memorial in Washington, D.C.
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial is the most visited memorial in Washington D.C. The memorial doesn’t focus on the war fought but on the fighters. It is more than just a wall; it’s a border that generates a variety of emotional catharsis which connects the present to the past. It creates a hushing effect in the minds leaving the visitor with a sense of peace.
Creating the Design of the Monument
As represented in A Strong Clear Vision, from October 1980 through March 31, 1981, over 1,400 U.S. citizens submitted their original designs to the national contest for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial to be built on the National Mall in Washington D.C. Many professional architects, as well as hundreds of Americans, entered the contest. On May 1, 1981, a student from Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut by the name of Maya Lin was chosen for further questioning following her design. Her beautiful light pastel sketch was simple yet powerful in meaning. The design originally started as a final project for her theories of architecture course after one of her classmates found a poster explaining the national contest. She was intrigued by the marble wall in Yale University which was engraved with names of alumni who died serving their country. Her design of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial was inspired by this memorial located directly in her school. She then thought long about how she should proceed to design such a memorial of importance. Deciding on an emotional reaction memorial with such simple complexity, Maya Lin’s design was one to stand out. Once she had completed her design of the memorial she decided to enter it into the contest, but she had to write an essay explaining her art to go along with the sketch. Maya Lin, in her interview, A Strong, Clear Vision says, “That essay took like two months to write because I knew I had to get it right because the design itself would’ve looked too simple to the naked eye.” (1994) After she sent in her entry she knew it had no chance of winning considering it didn’t focus mainly on war, but about the individual. Her design of a black reflecting granite V-shaped border caught the judges eye. They knew it was the one. Maya Lin described the border sinking into the earth as if the earth is being opened up. “Walls, however, make the most definitive borders, whether to a courtyard, a building, or a city.” (Lyndon & Moore, 88) She wanted the border to symbolize the separation of the living and the dead, but yet have the visitor connect with veterans who had passed. The walkway beside the border would be sloped as if you are present with a loved one not separated. The names of the 58,000 men who gave their lives would be lined in chronological order by their loss. Names bring back memories which leave the visitor to reminisce on their thoughts. She wanted the memorial to be honest, and that was simply it.
Opposition to Design
Maya Lin: A Strong Clear Vision states that before Maya Lin’s design there was a misconception on what a memorial should look like and represent. Many thought a memorial should be high up on a platform as if it were viewed as more honorable. That was the complete opposite of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Few monuments were built like Maya Lin’s and had never connected the past with the present. Which is why the memorial sunk into the ground. It didn’t stand out. In fact, it was difficult to find for many going to visit it.
Also stated in Maya Lin: A Strong Clear Vision, many people were offended by her design. She dealt with hate and many controversies with the border itself. Critics wanted the border to be changed to white saying that black is the color of sadness. Others said she was too young to design a monument as important as this. People even wanted to stop the construction of the memorial. The biggest controversy involving Maya Lin and critics were the additions of an American Flag and a statue of three soldiers. She had aspiration and wasn’t going to give her design an opening to change. The United States Committee of Fine Arts was to decide on what to do with the memorial’s design. They chose to leave the wall black, and not to place the American flag or the statue of The Three Soldiers adjacent to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial to preserve Maya Lin’s design.
The Lincoln Memorial and the National Mall
A marker to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial that is located on the western end of the National Mall is the Lincoln Memorial. The Lincoln Memorial was built and dedicated in 1922. Like most monuments, it’s a high platform. You can see it from miles away. This memorial was built to honor the sixteenth president of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, for leading the country through the American Civil War and for abolishing slavery.
Walking down from the Lincoln Memorial leads you to the National Mall. This is the most visited park. The park honors American’s forefathers and heroes though memorials and monuments. Trees line the walkway for visitors to enjoy our country’s history.
Connecting with the Past
Traveling northeast of the Lincoln Memorial leads to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial is difficult to see if you are walking down the tree-lined boulevard of the National Mall. You can see trees and other scenery as you walk down the side path which leads to the monument. Finally, the visitor spots the sign introducing the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. You then head straight to the directory. The directory allows visitors to look up a family member’s name and it will explain what section of the wall it is on and the date. Walking towards the American Flag is when you official see the border. Walking down the slope it gets quiet. Traffic and noise are still. The dark black border reflects your image as you look into it. The granite rises more than ten feet above you as you move down the path while looking for a name. It’s at the vertex that the visitor is aware that the paths are axes. The border axes line up with the Washington Memorial and the Lincoln Monument. Lyndon and Moore say in, Chambers for a Memory Palace, “Axes reach across space to draw together the important points in a place. They are mental constructions that help us position ourselves and make an alliance with hings, buildings, or space,” (5) The axes line up with the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument to connect all three memorials in its own way. The axes are where the war begins and ends. Names starting to the right of the border’s vertex at 1959 listed all the way down the border and continuing on the left side of the border ending with the date 1975. The names are so small you move in closer wanting to touch the names. The use of names brings back memories of a certain person. Your eyes get blurred by the tears in your eyes. This makes the visitor connect with the past. They complete the memorial. You and the memorial blend together to make you a part of it. You can see where people have left things such as teddy bears, pictures, and notes. People are weeping. “The pain of the loss will always be there,” Lin says, “it will always hurt, but we must acknowledge the death in order to move on.” (boundaries, 4:10) Continuing on the path as it slopes back up the visitor is back above the Earth. The sadness starts the cease knowing that it is over. The war is finished and the monument is complete making a complete circle with the dates starting and ending at the vertex of the border.
If you ever have the opportunity to visit the Vietnam Veterans Memorial may you be able to experience the emotional catharsis and remember the importance behind Maya Lin’s design. Take a moment to notice the visitors around you and their reactions as they walk down the widening, sloped path. Many you will see when they touch a name they start to cry. Notice the teddy bears and notes that people leave laying by the border. Take a look at the thousands of veteran’s names. See how the axis of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial is where the war begins and ends. The war is over, it is complete. Maya Lin intended to focus on the warriors and not the war. When seeing a name, she wanted visitors to remember the person and the memories they shared. She wanted to move people through the memorial, and that’s exactly what she did. She focused on accepting the deaths, so others could add closer to the loss of their loved ones.
Maya Lin: a Personal Reflection
Maya Lin: A Personal Reflection
Learning about Maya Lin and her struggle changed my understanding and appreciation of her work by making me realize how much racism she had to deal with, especially from the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Just because she is Asian doesn’t mean that she can’t have proper respect for those that have died. She spent so much time researching just to prepare her idea for the memorial and ended up with the best idea that supports and memorizes the veterans that truly gives people an idea of what war does and how we should remember those who died for our country. She absolutely seems like the type to take the time to plan out the works she creates, and they truly feel inspired by someone who cares about making something beautiful for others to admire.
Even with the park she made, she truly had every piece of the park tied in mind with a connection to nature and natural pieces of the earth, tying heavily into the basic facets of nature itself. It’s just a shame that people have considered her work on the memorial in line with something that lacks artistic ideals, instead of considering it a something entirely different when it’s just as much a piece of art are any other sculpture or work of art is.The Healing Power of ArtPart 2 – Unfortunately, there aren’t too many large scale outdoor public sculptures up in North Austin near The Domain where I live, but the closest one I could find is up here in Northwest Austin on the east side of the Austin Public Library Milwood titled Learning to Fly.
This sculpture was created by Lori Norwood in 1997 and uses steel alloy, gray paint, and stones for materials. The piece consists of five silhouette-esque children completely modeled in the gray steel alloy with their arms stretched out, each on the five large stones as if they are running or perhaps, attempting with their imagination to fly. The sculpture itself takes up only a few feet in one direction, but for what little space it takes up, it speaks volumes in terms of artistic design. I’m not quite sure how people in the area interact with the sculpture, but I thought it was interesting to walk around it and see different types of personal perspective due to the three-dimensional space used by the sculpture. However, the most important aspect of the sculpture are the visual elements that it uses, such as line via direction and movement, color via color harmonies, and space via three-dimensional space.
The first noticeable visual element in the piece, line, is clearly seen in the sculpture through the shapes of the children that are placed in a forward and relatively straight-looking line. This is where direction and movement come in, as the children in the sculpture are all pointing and/or heading in one direction. If the shapes of the children were pointing in different directions, it wouldn’t give the sense of a singular forward direction that exists in the sculpture, portraying children heading ever forward into the future. It would also fail to give the sense of moving towards that future that emanates from the sculpture. This singular forward direction also invokes the design principle of rhythm. Because the five-sculpture set consists of similar looking children, there is a notion that while children may look, act, and otherwise be very different, the path towards becoming an adult is a universal one. Plus, the fact that the children repeat in a relatively straight line supports the notion that development through learning, imagination, and play is something that all children experience and required in the path to gain the skills, knowledge, and other pieces of life that a child develops as they become an adult and “learn to fly”.
The second noticeable visual element in the piece, color, can be seen through the mixed grays of the paint on the sculptures themselves, the nature landscape underneath the sculptures, and the limestone that the sculptures are placed upon. Thanks to analogous color harmony of the varying shades of gray in the sculptures and limestone, as well as the green of the grass being a bit complimentary to the brown dirt, these color elements give the sculptures a sense of depth and importance in accordance with the surrounding landscape and cause the sculpture to stand out in the surrounding area to the point where people will notice and see it.
Plus, thanks to the harmony of color, the piece invokes the design principle of emphasis and subordination. Because the hands and fingertips are emphasized with a lighter gray compared to the rest of the darker grays across the shapes of the children, they attract the most immediate attention and allow the sculptures to have a more humane look. However, the viewer can see subordination via the generally fewer interesting parts of the children in the sculpture that aren’t fully formed and shaped as if they haven’t fully developed. This is something that wouldn’t be seen or noticed if the entire sculpture was just a single shade of gray.
Third and finally, the piece’s third noticeable visual element is space, as this piece takes great advantage of three-dimensional space to achieve a message. This can be seen simply by the fact that the sculptures essentially look different depending on how you view them in the space. If you view the sculptures from the side, you might see parts of the head or torso that aren’t fully there, but if you view from the front or the rear, you get a clearer picture of the sculpture. Much like if you look at the past or future of humanity, you get a better idea of humanity compared with only looking at the present. With this use of three-dimensional space, the piece has the design principle of unity and variety. Looking at this on a flat canvas or rather, through just one photo from the front, the sculptures look bunched together in a single area, so you can get a sense of unity as the shapes of the children all look very similar, but not the sense of variety.
The variety in this piece comes from looking at the sculpture from the side, where you can see variety from the spacing of the sculptures, the depth and difference in each of the poses, as well as seeing the steel pieces being effectively used to make up the human body-like pieces.In conclusion, Learning to Fly combines the visual elements and design principles of line in direction and movement with rhythm, color in color harmony with emphasis and subordination, and space in three-dimensional space with unity and variety to communicate and support the importance for the growth and development of children into adults. Considering the piece was created in 1997 but is still applicable and relevant now at more than twenty years later, it clearly was designed with a message in mind that is not only timeless, but also meant for both adults and children.
However, it also seems as if the artist intended for the piece to have multiple ideas that could come across to the viewer, especially depending on if the viewer is a child or an adult. For children, these elements work together to seemingly express the ideas of fun, joy, and a sense of play as they see fellow playing children in the sculpture. For adults, these elements work together to seemingly express the idea that children are important to the future of humanity and through encouragement and support of the development of children, they become proper functioning adults and “take flight” into the world as effective citizens.