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  • Oct 14, 2014

Maya Lin wins 2014 Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize

Portrait of Maya Lin. Image Credit: Walter Smith. Courtesy

On October 8, internationally renowned Chinese-American artist Maya Lin was announced the winner of the 21st Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize. The annual award, which recognizes the recipient's “outstanding contribution to the beauty of the world and to mankind’s enjoyment and understanding of life,” was bestowed upon Lin in recognition of her groundbreaking work in public art.

Maya Lin is best known for her highly influential large-scale installations, most notably the Vietnam Veterans Memorial—a national monument honoring members of the United States armed forces who fought in the American War in Vietnam—which was erected in Washington, DC, in 1982. Recently the artist has been exploring humanity’s experience of and relationship with nature in land-art pieces such as Storm King Wavefield (2009) and A Fold in the Field (2013). Her latest and ongoing project What is Missing? is a multimedia work with an environmental theme, intended to increase awareness about the devastation of biodiversity and natural habitats in today's world.

The selection committee for this year’s Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize was chaired by playwright and screenwriter David Henry Hwang, who lauded Lin’s “singular vision which has come to embrace passionate concern for the environment—in America, China and throughout this planet.” Commenting on the award, Lin stated that she is “deeply touched and grateful to become a part of this astonishing line of prize winners . . . to bring recognition to the contributions that artists make to society, and to encourage others to follow on that path.”

Established in 1994, in accordance with the will of American silent-film actress Lillian Gish (1893–1993), the award has honored a diverse body of recipients, including architect Frank Gehry, novelist Chinua Achebe, filmmaker Ingmar Bergman and artist Shirin Neshat. Candidates are nominated by the arts community and selected by a committee of its leading professionals. This year, on November 12, Lin will be presented the award, along with a cash prize of USD 300,000, at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.