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May Lin and Why She Has Balls! Not Literally

By Kelly Speechless @KellySpeechless

May Lin and her Design of the Vietnam Memorial. 
May Lin and Why She Has Balls! Not Literally May Lin was a true staple that broke the mold of transition in art.  An architect student named May Lin was twenty one years old when she submitted her idea to a contest for a memorial that had no way of putting down or shining light to the negativity in the Vietnam war. This memorial was supposed to be a design reflected those who have been lost, and May Yin Lin wanted their honor to be honest. Lin experienced life and the war with her eyes fully open. She didn’t see the soldiers being honored if the design ended up projecting the guidelines presented. The names of those who served would embody a message conveying that since the war was over we were safe. May Lin wanted to reflect the understanding that while the war is over on the surface maybe, its damage is far from over. From the beginning May Lin could see how the people serving our country in the war were not being treated as the hero's they are labeled as. The veterans and those who came back alive were not only starting all over in every part of their life, they were almost classed into a lower profile without help to stand on their feet again. She felt that justice and what it claims to prevail should have something to show its deception. People in the public who might have not had anyone in the war, or who had been unaffected by the war, or didn’t care enough to make an opinion now had both sides. Her true artistic talents shined thorough the form of the design and the feeling she brought with it. She knew people out there felt that the war ending was not a mark that it was all over. The form the black graphite shows that at the ends there can always be more names added. What happened in war and the damage control had only just begun.    True to the outcome Lin didn’t believe her design would be chosen for the memorial. She understood what was wanted for the memorial, and she was not playing by the rules. Even though the intructions seemed light and understandable on the surface, it was filled with fear. The directions to only memorialize these men in a way that doesn’t make the government look bad, is a statement not much different than presented. May Lin had the chance to atleast have her design rejected and even in the decision making process May Lin became an over night reporter for her design and her view. She had not anticipated the chance to do so. Not only was her design remanent of what was not asked for it was pointing fingers at the injustice our country exhibited during the war. May Lin was also a female young, and of a different nationality than causcsion. She was going out there with every possible sterotype built in her skin and veins with the notion of oppurtunity. Her strong stance and willingness to put herself out there seemed to her more like a gift or blessiong than a duty. When her voice had the chance to speak it spoke much like her design. The young woman was focused, clear and voiced her view by reporting the facts. Her approach also stirred public interest in the memorial. Without the submission of May Lin’s design the memorial the number of memorial viewers probably wouldn’t even skim the surface of what her design surmounted to. The intention of a memorial is a presence to be seen by many. I picture what a memorial would look like today had one been created by the directions. I picture ciggarette buts and no one seeing its presence only the wall or place that they can lean against. Reporting on the truth and carrying an air about her that gave no room for others to question her statements gave May Lin a great sounding board. have been seen, discussed, or known to as many people May Lin and Why She Has Balls! Not Literally Washington announced the memorial design contest was won by May Yin Lin. Two triangle pieces of black granite symbolize so much more than what it took to create the estimated seven million dollar memorial. It doesn't jut out with colors of red, white and blue and obvious intent for viewers. This one would take a lot longer to fade or made to feel as public background. As an analyst t May Lin crafted the depth of her design like a lit up cave that one would be intrigued to explore. The simplistic but unique black granite was shaped and out in a way that wouldn't project just a glance. Everyone would stop the first time they saw it. The names were not showcased with bells, ribbons, colors, or symbols of triumph. They were true to death and life and looked like graves. Ironically the representation of each grave contained material that was probably a lot nicer than most of the real ones; if there was one at all. The first signal that this memorial produces fits Lin’s analysis and humanly universal response. FOR WHAT? May Lin and Why She Has Balls! Not Literally May Lin and Why She Has Balls! Not LiterallyThat is the exact two words I thought of silently after I analyzed pictures of the memorial. As a person who did not grow up around the war, I can never fully embrace it no matter how much I learn about it in my lifetime. As a reader my first humanly, raw insticnt is to think that if this many people are gone then what they were against was unstoppable. If their intention was to fight  then that cause must have been one that is unbearable or so catasrophic that not fighting would be unheard of. The ones who came back when the fight was over would be carried on gold chairs with people cheering and have the clothing of kings. Of course I am aware with history of how people are treated as they actively serve and end their position in the military, but analyzing this memorial made my human response take over. Lin’s objective as an analyzer was to make observers understand this design on a human level first. Natural response doesn’t debate. It is ingrained within us to have the presence of a gut instinct. No matter how many times you lie to yourself you can’t deny that no one makes anyone feel the initial understanding of what is truly good and just but ourselves individually. May Lin showed people the naked truth. She did it in a way that was still respectful, (even though argued) and made the public cries against it not taken into action due to its simplistic safety net of exposure. Artists who create amazing, famous or even historical pieces of art don’t usually obtain the title of activist or hold a place in the advancement of equal human rights. With open arms May Lin was able to not only become an activist for her design but an activist when it came to her rights as a woman. Since May Lin’s initial approach was easy for public scrutinty, it wasn’t easy for protestors to go full throttle with those opinions. They might scream and write, or group together against the memorial but it felt cowardly. They couldn’t go by using truth in the numbers without a captain. Trying to make May Lins status as a female not born on American soil was a weak argument in opposition against the memorial. Any referenced op-posers injustice  of her design was ridiculous and too ironic. For once you saw an argument that was executed without being looked at straight in the eye.
Balls! Literally Those claims only fired up the feminist movement, and how those opposed to the memorial because a female was the creator. In a big way those who disagreed with the display only ignited publicity around what was made to be an issue needing attention. Instead of opposers looking seeming to carry some weight or belief they came off as scorned little children. They acted as if the memorial represented a secret they didn't want anyone to see. Also, the fact that a woman made this huge public statement that was based on reality was something people had a problem with. Their last pitiful agruement in that this memorial should have atleast had a male creator if it was going to built faded like dust in the wind. The title of artist and activist under May Lin’s name fits with perfection.   The amazing design by May Lin represents what freedom in America is all about. No one can change what happened in the war, or what will happen in the future pertaining to that score. We are made to accept the outcomes, understand that time heals wounds, ignore obvious irony, and forget. This memorial shows us that they can take away everything else, but they can’t take the truth away. The reason I didn’t use the word, “Vietnam,” in this journal was to make sure my thought pattern was driving on the fact that this was sopposed to be a memorial representing those who have fought for it, instead of referencing that name. Also, I didn’t want to focus on May Lins race to factually so that wouldn’t take away from what she did for the advancement in recognition of female rights. I can understand exactly why we were chosen to break down this woman in the contexts of experiencer, reporter, anyalyzer, and activist. When art imitates life the artist usually doesn’t wear that many hats no matter how fiercly the piece pushes social circumstance. The role of experiencer, reporter, analyzer and activist were four hats May Lin wore perfectly. She wore each hat more beatifully than the next, so there wasn’t one that could be coined more than another. Using hats might be silly to explain my point but this assigment and how it made me feel is not. I don’t believe everyone was born for a specific purpose, but if anyone is it’s May Lin, the designer of the Vietnam Memorial. 

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