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The work will anchor a water garden dedicated to the former president's mother, Ann Dunham.

Maya Lin Creates Fountain Sculpture for Obama Presidential Center

Ann Dunham Water Garden and Maya Lin sculptures. Courtesy Obama Foundation.

The water garden at the Obama Presidential Center in Chicago will feature a commission by Chinese-American sculptor and architect Maya Lin, the Obama Foundation announced today.

Lin's two-part water fountain installation, Seeing Through the Universe will consist of an 'oculus' that mists up from hidden water jets and lights up at night, and a flat indented 'pebble' through which water will bubble before overflowing and cascading down the sides.

'There is something so powerful about a very still flowing use of water so that when you touch the water you change it' said Lin. 'The art doesn't stop when I make the piece, the art actually begins when you start engaging with it.'

Maya Lin famously launched her career in public sculpture by winning the design competition for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial (built in 1982) on the National Mall in Washington D.C. She was just a 21-year-old undergraduate at the time, but her contemplative minimalist design that cuts into the landscape won over jurors in a competition with over 1400 entries.

For this, and her work on numerous other later projects including the Civil Rights Memorial (1989) for the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Alabama, and The Women's Table (1993) at Yale University she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Obama in 2016.

On 4 August, Barack Obama's 61st birthday, it was announced that the water garden will be named after his mother, Ann Dunham.

'When we thought about what may be a fitting way to commemorate my mother's influence on my sister and me, I thought about where she would want to be in this space', said President Obama.

'I could picture her sitting on one of the benches on a nice summer afternoon, smiling and watching a bunch of kids running through the fountain, and I thought that would capture who she was as well as just about anything else,' he said.

Close to the centre's north entrance, the water garden will be a place for visitors to relax and reflect with the sculpture as a focal point.

The Obama Presidential Center will also feature a museum, forum, library, and Winter Garden forming a campus around a central public plaza.

Ground was broken on the site in September last year. It is estimated that the centre will draw more than 700,000 visitors annually to Chicago's South Side when it opens in 2025. —[O]

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