The Committee of 100 is proud to announce that C100 Member Maya Lin was awarded a Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama on Tuesday, November 22, 2016 for her pioneering work in sculpture and landscape art.
From the White House website: “The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the Nation’s highest civilian honor, presented to individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.”
In 1981, while still an undergraduate student at Yale University, Lin won a national design competition for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., beating 1,441 other submissions. When her Chinese ethnicity, gender, and age were revealed, Lin’s design was challenged and opposed by congressional leaders, forcing Lin to defend her design in front of the U.S. Congress. The memorial was eventually approved and constructed, and has since become an important national pilgrimage site, receiving 3 million visitors a year to honor the thousands of American military casualties in Vietnam.
Lin has gone on to design many celebrated sculptures and works of art, including the Civil Rights Memorial (Montgomery, Alabama), the Peace Chapel at Juniata College (Huntingdon, Pennsylvania), Women’s Table at the Sterling Memorial Library of Yale University (New Haven, Connecticut), A Fold in the Field (Auckland, New Zealand), and a series of sculptures for the Confluence Project (Washington and Oregon States).
Maya Lin is also the recipient of the Rome Prize, the White House’s National Medal of Arts, and the Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize, a $300,000 art prize.
A long-time environmentalist, Lin is currently working on a multi-sited piece, What is Missing? bringing awareness to the planet’s loss of natural habitat and biodiversity by utilizing sound, media, science, and art for temporary installations and a web-based project.