In Memory of Lin Emery 1926–2021

Lin Emery

Lin Emery, a beloved figure in the New Orleans art world, paved the way for countless women to enter the world of sculpture and the arts. She passed away on March 11, 2021, at the age of 94. 

Lin is survived by her son, Brooks Braselman, and is preceded in death by her husband Shirley Braselman.

Internationally-recognized sculptor Lin Emery was born on May 20, 1926, in New York. She began sculpting at the age of 21, studying under Russian sculptor Ossip Zadkine while living in Paris. Upon returning to New York, she learned to weld and cast bronze before moving to New Orleans in 1945 where she opened a corner shop that made oyster tongs. Emery first began creating kinetic sculpture in 1954, experimenting with aquamobiles (water), magnetmobiles (magnetic force), wind-powered works, and even musical sculptures. Lin was influenced by natural forms and attempted to recreate the fluid, organic, and often whimsical movements of the natural world in her artwork. Encounters with prominent sculptors, such as Isamu Noguchi and George Rickey, influenced Emery’s work both aesthetically and structurally. 

In the 1970s, Lin began using internal ball bearings which allowed her sculptures to move gracefully in the wind. Speaking about her sculptures Lin said “Sculpture is living, it’s vital, it’s changeable. Even when you walk around it, it can be something different. Drawing is a reflection and coordinating eye and hand, but sculpture is your mind and an idea.”  

Lin has exhibited throughout the United States as well as in England, Japan, Australia, Germany, and France. Her work graces many prestigious public and private collections around the globe, including the National Collection of American Art, the Hunter Museum, the New Orleans Museum of Art, the Chrysler Museum of Art, and the Zen Garden of the Hohen-in Temple in Kyoto, Japan. Over her nearly 75-year career, Lin Emery has been honored with countless awards and accolades. Among these include the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Kinetic Art Organization, Opus Award from the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, winner of the International Kinetic Art Exhibition and Symposium, the Grand Prize for Public Sculpture from the Osaka Prefecture in Japan, the New Orleans Mayor’s Award for Achievement in the Arts, and the Louisiana Governor’s Arts Award.

Installation view of Lin Emery’s 2018 exhibition Ruminations at the Arthur Roger Gallery

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to CrescentCare in Lin’s honor. At Lin’s request, there will be a memorial concert featuring music commissioned by Lin and produced by Jay Weigel. The ensemble will perform The Light is On, a piece composed by Weigel to honor Lin’s life.  The concert will take place at the New Orleans Museum of Art and the details will be announced at a later date.