For five decades Meredith Monk ’60 has paved her own path in the art world, creating wordless vocal masterpieces which have graced stages in New York and internationally. Her compositions have recently earned her one of the most prestigious honors an artist can receive, the Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize.
Lillian Gish, a legendary actress known as the First Lady of Cinema, said of the prize, “It is my desire that the prize be awarded to a man or woman who has made an outstanding contribution to the beauty of the world and to mankind’s enjoyment and understanding of life.”
Meredith was singled out as being widely influential in her achievements as a composer, singer, and interdisciplinary artist. She was selected from a field of sixty-six nominees. Janet Sarbaugh, head of the Prize selection committee commented on the decision to choose Meredith, “Meredith Monk’s work is a true gift to the world. Her focus on the primacy of the human voice is universal and feels both ancient and completely modern.”
The Gish Prize was presented to Monk, Thursday, October 26, 2017, at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. The private ceremony was attended by leaders of the art community.
According to the award release, Meredith said she was humbled by the prize. “It’s exceptional for being a prize that a great artist decided to give to other artists, and even more special for the values that Lillian Gish expressed when she said it should recognize contributions to ‘the beauty of the world.’ I believe, as she did, that art can be a healing force, a source of light during dark times. With boundless admiration for her, and profound respect for the artists who received this prize before me, I am thrilled to have been chosen for this one-of-a-kind award.”