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Maya Lin draws the line at using wood that isn't environmentally friendly.
Maya Lin draws the line at using wood that isn't environmentally friendly. (By Lois Raimondo -- The Washington Post)
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Friday, March 20, 2009

The daughter of a ceramicist, Maya Lin says she grew up playing with the clay in her father's studio. There's a hands-on quality to all her work, from the smallest plaster reliefs (resembling the ripples of wet sand on a beach) to the room-size installations, which the 49-year-old is notorious for tweaking until the last minute.

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There are two art materials, though, that she says she won't touch: wood from old-growth forests and wood products that use harmful chemicals.

Those two-by-fours? They come with the seal of approval of the Sustainable Forestry Initiative, whose standards promote environmentally sound tree harvesting. That particleboard? It's formaldehyde-free.

But wait. Why would a staunch environmentalist like Lin even use wood at all? Aesthetics aside, isn't it better to use, say, recycled plastic, and save a few trees? After all, 50,000 two-by-fours create a lot of sawdust.

Not so, Lin says. By helping to create and promote the market for sustainable lumber, she's putting her money, and her art, where her mouth is.

-- Michael O'Sullivan

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