Maya Lin’s Art in Abstraction

Maya Lin burst on the public awareness in 1981 when, still an undergraduate, she won the commission to design the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial. The abstract element in her work was present from this first major work, a reflecting black wall cut into the ground. Since that debut, she has completed other architectural works. She, however, prefers to designate herself as a “designer” rather than an “architect.”

Maya Lin’s Focus in Art

Lin has turned her focus to the many ways humans interact with space. In doing so, her work frequently takes on elements that many consider consistent with abstract art. She has tried to focus on how space effects emotions. Her works create new ways for the viewer to experience space and shapes.

Maya Lin’s recent work has turned to reconsiderations of landscapes. She has engaged in sculpting actual land, as well as constructing the impression of landforms in other materials. A recent exhibition entitled “Systematic Landscapes” had several pieces addressing our age of ecological changes and tensions. Her “2×4 Landscape” challenges the viewer by creating different impressions when seen from different angles.


"2X4 Landscape" by Maya Lin

“2X4 Landscape” by Maya Lin


From one angle, this work resembles a swelling hillock rising from the plane of the floor. From another angle, it appears to be a breaking wave sweeping forward. The work is constructed from lengths of 2×4 wood placed on end, adding a sense of permanence and durability to the initial impressions.

Another work from the “Systematic Landscapes” exhibit is the suspended work “Water Line.”

"Waterline" by Maya Lin

“Waterline” by Maya Lin



In this work, Lin has taken the topographical mapping of the seabed from a specific location underwater on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. She and her studio assistants worked with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute to create a three-dimensional scale version of the map, which is then suspended over the viewers in the gallery. By this means, she brings the viewer into a new experience of the sea floor and our world.

Creating New Perspectives in Abstract Art

Abstract art reaches for this new experience, no matter what type of choices the artist makes. An artist such as Diana Hobson, uses paint on canvas, shapes and color, to give the viewer a new perspective on life in our world.


"Burnt Rainbow" by Diana Hobson

“Burnt Rainbow” by Diana Hobson


Hobson’s combination of visuals and title can stretch the viewer’s awareness. What, for instance, is a “Burnt Rainbow” (the title of the above work)? By trying to represent abstract aspects of a thought, Hobson gives us something new to consider. More of her work is available at her Venice studio gallery.


“2×4 Landscape” by Maya Lin, 2006, copyright Maya Lin. Image used under Fair Use Practices for instruction.

“Water Line” by Maya Lin, 2006, copyright Maya Lin. Image used under Fair Use Practices for instruction.

“Burnt Rainbow” by Diana Hobson, 1979, copyright by Diana Hobson. Used by permission.


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