Burning Question

What is Missing?


Traveled To

Mexico – Mexico City, Oaxaca, Palenque, Patzcuaro, San Cristobal de las Casas, San Miguel de Allende, Veracruz, Xalapa
Ecuador – Otavalo, Quito
Peru – Cuzco, Lake Titicaca, Machu Picchu, Nazca Desert
Brazil – The Amazon, São Paulo
Egypt – Aswan, Cairo, Luxor, The Nile
Jordan – Amman, Petra, Wadi Rum
Israel – The Dead Sea, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv
India – Agra, New Delhi, Ranthambore National Park
China – Chongquing, Guilin, The Lu River, Wuhan, The Yangtze River
Laos – Luang Prabang, The Mekong River, Vientiane
Vietnam – Ha Long Bay. Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City


About the Artist

Born 1959, Athens, Ohio. Lives and works in New York.


I am interested in understanding how the phenomenon termed by Jared Diamond as “landscape amnesia” also known as shifting baselines makes us unaware of just how drastically we have altered the environment because we have forgotten how much things have changed with each successive generation. I will utilize this grant to create my fifth and last memorial, one that rethinks what a memorial can be—a memorial that can exist in many forms simultaneously. Entitled What is Missing?, it will take the form of a multi-sited sound and visual media installation at specific institutions, a website, and a book. A key aspect of the project is a global map of memories. This map will allow people to contribute a specific memory of a place that they have witnessed disappear or significantly diminish. The website will be seeded with historical accounts of early explorers such as Darwin, Lewis and Clark, and Christopher Columbus, as well as memories contributed by the people involved in the making of What is Missing?, in order to establish a collective memory of the planet.

—Maya Lin

Maya Lin has maintained a careful balance between art and architecture throughout her career, creating a remarkable body of work that includes large-scale site-specific installations, intimate studio artworks, architecture and memorials. Peering at the landscape—the context and source of inspiration for her work—through a 21st century lens, Ms. Lin utilizes technological methods to study and visualize the natural world, merging rational order with notions of beauty and the transcendental and translating them into sculptures, drawings and environmental installations.
From recent works such as Storm King Wavefield, Where the Land Meets the Sea and Eleven Minute Line to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Ms. Lin continuously presents innovative ways of looking at the world around us. Her work investigates our relationship to the environment, creating a systematic ordering of the land that is directly tied to history, language, and time.
A committed environmentalist, Ms. Lin is at work on her last memorial, entitled What is Missing? a multi-sited project which raises public awareness of the current crisis surrounding biodiversity and habitat loss.
Maya Lin serves on the Board of Trustees of the Natural Resources Defense Council. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 2005. Ms. Lin is the recipient of numerous prizes and awards, including the 2009. National Medal of Arts, the Presidential Design Award, a National Endowment for the Arts artist’ award, the William A. Bernoudy Resident in Architecture fellowship from the American Academy in Rome, the Award in Architecture from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, an AIA Honor Award, the Finn Juhl Prize, and honorary doctorates from Yale, Harvard, Williams, and Smith College among others.