As we honor those who have lost their lives serving in the Armed Forces this Memorial Day, we thought we would take a moment to celebrate modern memorials and those who created them.
Vietnam Veterans Memorial by Maya Lin, Washington, D.C., U.S. 1982
Many consider American architect, Maya Lin's Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall one of the first post-modern war monuments. It is one of the most highly praised monuments to have ever been created. The wall is made of reflective granite with the names of the over 58,000 Americans to die in the Vietnam War engraved on the surface.
Vanished Berlin Wall by Eunsook Lee, Berlin, Germany 2007
Artist Eunsook Lee took the familiar look of the Berlin Wall and created an installation displaying the names of 5,000 Korean family members who have been separated since the Korean War. This creates a memorial that is both eye-catching and powerful.
Spectra by Ryoji Ikeda, London, U.K. 2014
14-18 NOW created a large-scale initiative called Lights Out. During this campaign they asked people to turn off their lights for a specific hour on August 4th. This was the date the U.K. declared war on Germany. The British Foreign Secretary at the time, Sir Edward Grey famously said, "The lamps are going out all over Europe, we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime."
During this hour, there were five large-scale art installations placed around the U.K. This included Spectra by Japanese artist, Ryoji Ikeda. His installation consisted of a column of light being projected into the night sky.
Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red by Paul Cummins and Tom Piper, London, U.K. 2014
The poppy has been the symbol for fallen soldiers in the U.K. for quite some time. Since this exhibit at the Tower of London debuted on August 5th, four million people have visited the WWI memorial installation. The exhibit was created by ceramics artist, Paul Cummins, and set designer, Tom Piper. They created a flower for every British serviceperson who died during WWI. This amounted to 888,246 flowers.
This large and creative installation differs from many of the traditional statuesque monuments typically displayed. It was commented that this contemporary exhibit expresses collective grief but also conveys hope for the possibility of peace in the future.
Above and Beyond by Rick Steinbock, Ned Broderick, Joe Fornelli, and Mike Helbing, National Veterans Museum, Chicago, IL, U.S. 2001
This exhibit is made up of individual dog tags for each American soldier killed during the Vietnam War. This made up enough tags to fill 400 square feet of space. It was mentioned how the scale of the installation lends it an industrial strength.
These impressive artworks provide a place for people to mourn those they have lost, celebrate past histories, and consider the decisions we make in the future. Art could be considered the antithesis of war. It is the celebration of the human spirit where war is the darkest part of humanity. It is healing and helpful to be able to use this tool to understand the loss caused by war and help us move forward as a global society.