Artist and designer Maya Lin has won the 2014 Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize, which comes with a $300,000 purse. Established in 1994 in memory of actress Lillian Gish (“the First Lady of American cinema”), the prize recognizes “highly accomplished artists who have pushed the boundaries of their art forms, contributed to social change and paved the way for the next generation.” Past winners include Frank Gehry, Bob Dylan, Merce Cunningham and Spike Lee.
New York-based Lin, who is also a 2009 National Medal of Arts winner, is best known for her large-scale, site-specific installations, in particular her 1981 design for the Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial in Washington, D.C. Lin has also undertaken architectural projects including New York’s SculptureCenter, the recently completed Museum for Chinese in America, also in New York, and the Riggio-Lynch Interfaith Chapel and Langston Hughes Library for the Children’s Defense Fund in Clinton, Tenn.
For the past seven years, Lin has been working on What is Missing?, a work concerning biodiversity and habitat loss, which debuted as a sound and media installation at the California Academy of Sciences in 2009 and is included in Lin’s current exhibition “Art/Act,” on view at the David Brower Center in Berkeley, Calif. (through Feb. 4, 2015). She is also working on “Confluence Project,” a collaboration with Pacific Northwest tribes, civic groups and other artists, architects and landscape designers to create public art installations at points along the Columbia River Basin in the Pacific Northwest.
“I am deeply touched and grateful to become a part of this astonishing line of prize winners, all of whom were selected because of the very simple but powerful goal set down by Lillian Gish: to bring recognition to the contributions that artists make to society, and to encourage others to follow on that path,” Lin said in a press release. “Because I have been donating so much of my time over the past seven years to a single long-term project, What Is Missing?, the award will make an enormous difference in enabling me to move the work forward.”