Lin at the Museum of Glass in Tacoma, Washington (2007)
October 5, 1959 |
Athens, Ohio, U.S.
|Known for||art, architecture, memorials|
|Notable work||Vietnam Veterans Memorial (1982)
Civil Rights Memorial (1989)
National Medal of Arts
Presidential Medal of Freedom
OK, it was black, it was below grade, I was female, Asian American, young, too young to have served. Yet I think none of the opposition in that sense hurt me.
A lot of my works deal with a passage, which is about time. I don't see anything that I do as a static object in space. It has to exist as a journey in time.
I probably have fundamentally antisocial tendencies. I never took one extracurricular activity. I just failed utterly at that level. Part of me still rebels against that.
I'm not in a hurry to do a lot of projects. I am very resolved in each project I take on.
I started studying what the nature of a monument is and what a monument should be. And for the World War III memorial I designed a futile, almost terrifying passage that ends nowhere.
To me, the American Dream is being able to follow your own personal calling. To be able to do what you want to do is incredible freedom.
Nothing is ever guaranteed, and all that came before doesn't predicate what you might do next.
I deliberately did not read anything about the Vietnam War because I felt the politics of the war eclipsed what happened to the veterans. The politics were irrelevant to what this memorial was.
The only thing that mattered was what you were to do in life, and it wasn't about money. It was about teaching, or learning.
When I was building the Vietnam Memorial, I never once asked the veterans what it was like in the war, because from my point of view, you don't pry into other people's business.
Sometimes you have to stop thinking. Sometimes you shut down completely. I think that's true in any creative field.
How we are using up our home, how we are living and polluting the planet is frightening. It was evident when I was a child. It's more evident now.
I was always making things. Even though art was what I did every day, it didn't even occur to me that I would be an artist.
You have to have conviction and completely question everything and anything you do. No matter how much you study, no matter how much you know, the side of your brain that has the smarts won't necessarily help you in making art.
It terrified me to have an idea that was solely mine to be no longer a part of my mind, but totally public.
It was a requirement by the veterans to list the 57,000 names. We're reaching a time that we'll acknowledge the individual in a war on a national level.
You couldn't put me in a social group setting. I'm probably a terrible anarchist deep down.
I really enjoyed hanging out with some of the teachers. This one chemistry teacher, she liked hanging out. I liked making explosives. We would stay after school and blow things up.
The process I go through in the art and the architecture, I actually want it to be almost childlike. Sometimes I think it's magical.
I left science, then I went into art, but I approach things very analytically. I choose to pursue both art and architecture as completely separate fields rather than merging them.
My dad was dean of fine arts at the university. I was casting bronzes in the school foundry. I was using the university as a playground.
You have to let the viewers come away with their own conclusions. If you dictate what they should think, you've lost it.
My parents are both college professors, and it made me want to question authority, standards and traditions.
If we can't face death, we'll never overcome it. You have to look it straight in the eye. Then you can turn around and walk back out into the light.
I loved logic, math, computer programming. I loved systems and logic approaches. And so I just figured architecture is this perfect combination.
In art or architecture your project is only done when you say it's done. If you want to rip it apart at the eleventh hour and start all over again, you never finish. I was one of those crazy creatures.
I was probably the first kid in my high school to go to Yale. I applied almost as a lark. Then, when I got there, I was the dumbest person in your class.
The definition of a modern approach to war is the acknowledgement of individual lives lost.
I try to give people a different way of looking at their surroundings. That's art to me.
Even though I build buildings and I pursue my architecture, I pursue it as an artist. I deliberately keep a tiny studio. I don't want to be an architectural firm. I want to remain an artist.
Growing up, I thought I was white. It didn't occur to me I was Asian-American until I was studying abroad in Denmark and there was a little bit of prejudice.
Some artists want to confront. Some want to invoke thought. They're all necessary and they're all valid.
We were unusually brought up; there was no gender differentiation. I was never thought of as any less than my brother.
I had very few friends. We always ate dinner with our parents. We didn't want to go out. American adolescence was a lot wilder than I would have felt comfortable with.
Our parents decided not to teach us Chinese. It was an era when they felt we would be better off if we didn't have that complication.
I probably spent the first 20 years of my life wanting to be as American as possible. Through my 20s, and into my 30s, I began to become aware of how so much of my art and architecture has a decidedly Eastern character.
Art is very tricky because it's what you do for yourself. It's much harder for me to make those works than the monuments or the architecture.
My goal is to strip things down so that you need just the right amount of words or shape to convey what you need to convey. I like editing. I like it very tight.
When I was very little, we would get letters from China, in Chinese, and they' be censored. We were a very insular little family.
You should be having more fun in high school, exploring things because you want to explore them and learning because you love learning-not worrying about competition.
My grandfather, on my father's side, helped to draft one of the first constitutions of China. He was a fairly well-known scholar.
It's only in hindsight that you realize what indeed your childhood was really like.
I went through withdrawal when I got out of graduate school. It's what you learn, what you think. That's all that counts.