Medal of Arts

The Medal of Arts award was created by Art in Embassies, in partnership with the Secretary of State, in 2012 to formally acknowledge artists who have played an exemplary role in advancing the U.S. Department of State’s mission to promote cultural diplomacy. Their artwork serves as a bridge with other nations, encourages discussion and expression, and highlights the communal experience of people from countries, cultures, and backgrounds worldwide.

Recipients of the Medal of Arts 2023

Tony AbeytaTony Abeyta (b. 1965, Gallup, New Mexico) is a Diné (Navajo) contemporary artist working in mixed media paintings and sculpture, exploring nature and the environment. He was born into a distinguished family of Diné artists that includes his late sisters, Pablita and Elizabeth, and his late parents, Narciso and Sylvia Shipley Abeyta. Together, his relatives […]
Sheila HicksSheila Hicks (b. 1934, Hastings, Nebraska) studied at Yale School of Art with painter Josef Albers and art historian George Kubler. She received a Fulbright scholarship in 1957-58 to paint in Chile which enabled her to travel through twelve countries in South America where she documented archeological sites and indigenous craftsmen. Pre-Columbian weaving techniques influenced […]
Robert PruittRobert Pruitt (b. 1975, Houston, Texas) received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Texas Southern University (2000) and a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Texas at Austin (2003). His life-size portraits of Black figures incorporate material references to hip hop, science fiction, comic books, African artistic forms, and African American culture, […]
Suling WangSuling Wang (b. 1963, Taichung City, Taiwan) is known primarily for her large-scale, abstract paintings that explore the artist’s sense of location and distance between Eastern and Western cultures. She completed her Bachelor of Arts degree at Central Saint Martins in London in 1997 and then received her Master of Arts degree from the Royal […]
Hank Willis ThomasHank Willis Thomas (b. 1976, Plainfield, New Jersey) is a conceptual artist who focuses on themes of perspective, identity, commodity, media, and popular culture. His practice is often collaborative and engaged in public art. Thomas’s The Embrace, 2022 is a 19-ton monument to Civil Rights leaders Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King […]

There is a connection, hard to explain logically but easy to feel, between achievement in public life and progress in the arts.

John F. Kennedy

Recipients of the Medal of Arts 2012-2017

Press and Media Medal of Arts