Designer Maya Lin gets US’ highest civilian honor
Maya Lin, the sculpture and landscape artist who designed the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, was among 21 Americans who received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, from President Barack Obama in a White House ceremony.
Lin was 21 and in her senior year at Yale University when she won the public competition to design the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, which launched her career. She studied architecture and sculpture at Yale and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 1981.
Lin was born in Athens, Ohio. Her parents migrated to the US from China, her father in 1948 and her mother in 1949. They settled in Ohio before Maya was born. Her father, Henry Huan Lin, was a ceramist and former dean of the Ohio University College of Fine Arts. Her mother, Julia Chang Lin is a poet and taught literature at Ohio University.
Lin is also the niece of Lin Huiyin, a noted 20th-century Chinese architect and writer, known to be the first female architect in modern China.
Obama also honored another designer, architect Frank Gehry, in the awards presentation on Tuesday. Gehry’s best-known buildings include the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles and the Guggenheim Museum building in Bilbao, Spain.” It was Obama’s last Presidential Medal of Freedom ceremony.
The award is presented to those who “have made especially meritorious contributions” to the security or national interests of the United
The award is presented to those who “have made especially meritorious contributions” to the security or national interests of the United States.
States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.
The ceremony wasn’t Lin’s first time meeting Obama. She also received the National Medal of the Arts from him in 2009.
Lin told NBC News in an email that when she learned that she would receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, she was “speechless and so very, very honored.”
She has said that her latest memorial, titled What Is Missing, will be her last. She said that it honors the lives that humans destroy: the environment and natural world.
Obama’s 2016 list included 19 living Americans and 2 who have died, and was heavy on figures from the entertainment and sports industries. Others joining Lin and Gehry included: comedian Ellen DeGeneres, actors Robert De Niro and Robert Redford, producer Lorne Michaels, singer Diana Ross, baseball announcer Vin Scully, philanthropists Bill and Melinda Gates, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Michael Jordan, Bruce Springsteen, Cicely Tyson and Tom Hanks.
US President Barack Obama awards landscape architect Maya Lin the Presidential Medal of Freedom during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington on Tuesday.