Maya Lin—he artist, sculptor and environmental artist best known as the designer of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial—received the 21st annual $300, 000 Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize in November. The prestigious award recognizes architects, musicians, playwrights, directors, actors and other artists for “outstanding and continuing artistic contributions to society and to the beauty of the world.”
“I am deeply touched and grateful to become a part of this astonishing line of prize winners, ” Lin said, “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. 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.”
“What Is Missing ” is a multi-site and multi-media work that includes an interactive website with dozens of videos, a book, and a sound and media sculpture installation, all of which calls attention to the world’s loss of biodiversity and natural abundance.
“I sort of call it my last memorial, but it is a memorial that will basically reinvent [itself], ” Lin told an interviewer in 2012. The website, she said, is “a map of the world looked at from an ecological point of view, but it is a map that allows us to see the past, the present, and … plausible future scenarios, what we call green print, which is really rethinking what the planet could look like.”
Lin’s goal, she said, is “to raise awareness about the present crisis surrounding biodiversity loss, link it to habitat loss, and not just be about raising awareness about what we are losing, but maybe using it as a wake-up call, telling you what is being done right now by all the environmental groups, all the experts, but then let’s dream up plausible ways, by 2050, to re-imagine what the world could look like.”