AIE Medal of Arts Award 2015

Secretary of State John Kerry awarded the second U.S. Department of State Medal of Arts during a luncheon ceremony on January 21, 2015, in the Department’s Benjamin Franklin Room.


The distinguished recipients of the 2015 Medal of Arts awards were Xu Bing, Mark Bradford, Sam Gilliam, Maya Lin, Julie Mehretu, Pedro Reyes, and Kehinde Wiley.

Full Transcript

0:24 I’m Ellen Susman the director of Art in Embassies
0:27 and it’s my pleasure to welcome Secretary of State and all of you to the
0:30 second
0:31 annual art in embassies Medal of Arts awards. today we honor seven artists
0:36 whose talent and dedication to their work
0:40 and mission of cultivating dialogue and exchange through the visual arts
0:44 has enriched our program for many many years
0:47 the importance of art and cultural diplomacy can’t be overstated I think
0:51 that
0:52 art is ultimately on the leading edge of
0:55 how we as a nation define ourselves I think that
0:59 um it’s important with the kind of daily
1:02 very rapidly changing geopolitical world we live in that you have these other
1:06 types of markers
1:07 and cultural diplomacy I think you create a context in art
1:10 plays that role that way.
1:14 I worked on a piece that is called ear for the
1:17 US consulate in Tijuana
1:20 and he has to do with the idea of cultural diplomacy because I’m
1:24 interested not so much in what
1:26 each country is saying
1:29 but what they ought to hear.
1:33 if you got the people’s heart then
1:37 you can get in the world. I think art can do with this
1:41 because artists really
1:44 international really warm really for
1:48 comes from human beings heart.
1:51 sometimes we’re divided by language etcetera
1:55 so what is interesting is to see what other ways of communication are possible
1:59 so ides maybe
2:03 transmitted without words.
2:07 I see most art and most artist actually as diplomats are
2:11 in their own right I really see them pushing forward
2:16 a conversation in most work.
2:20 so today we honor our artists
2:23 we honor them because at the mirror they hold up to who we are
2:27 what we hope to be and because they have the ability to astonish
2:32 to surprise and to inspire to make us think
2:35 in new and hopefully liberating ways
2:39 receiving the Medal of Arts Award down means a lot
2:44 at this moment I tried not to get excited
2:48 but I got very excited because the people around me
2:51 it’s just like an incentive or a kind of inspiration to
2:55 to keep working.
2:59 it means that puts a superbig smile on my mom’s face.
3:04 It’s sort of a big thing for me Iunderstand.
3:07 what it means in a larger sense
3:12 that its relationship with my country
3:16 it’s an honor to receive an award from anyone
3:17 and so to receive an award in
3:20 in this context is also just an incredible honor.
3:24 All of you are driven to create your works will forever grace the walls of our embassies
3:29 around the world
3:30 your art is often the first and only vision of America people in another
3:35 country see
3:36 and as they walk into an annex or stand in line for a visa
3:40 your art welcomes them into the home of
3:43 democracy. that is power that this conversation
3:47 and that is diplomacy.