All of these art pieces, with the exception of The Raft of Medusa, deal with the topic of war. This final piece in monument form, The Vietnam Veterans Memorial, works to avoid commentary on the war exclusively and instead focus on those who served in it. In a way, it is the culmination of the points delivered through these many works of art. When Maya Ying Lin designed the plan for this memorial, she was aware of the controversiality of the war it was remembering, but chose to concentrate instead on “the reality of war and...the people who gave their lives” (Kleiner, 1008). Her use of the earth and its materials to create this monument lead one to see the possible proverbial arrows Lin laid to point to a “no-war” perspective. The black granite that laces the edge of a deep cut into the earth summons up dark images. Lin says “I had an impulse to cut open the earth...an initial violence that in time would heal. The grass would grow back, but the cut would remain,” showing that the war itself was a deep scar that could never be completely healed (Kleiner, 1008). The monument’s walkway delivers the feeling of descent to its viewers, as they walk deeper into the slash in the earth and wall continues to grow taller and taller. It is overwhelming, the names of the dead and missing, but in this same monument, elements of positivity can be found. First, it is a place of remembrance, and the remembrance of heroes. It is cathartic and healing, a place of solace and honor. It evokes compassion and thought in its visitors and literally reflects the life that still walks the earth in the polished walls of stone. Lin successfully created “an interface between the world of the light and the quieter world beyond the names” (Kleiner, 1007). This monument is not founded on the goal to “dictate response” but instead “encourages personal exploration” (Kleiner, 1007).
|A photograph showing how the memorial is like a gash in the ground|