Medal of Arts 2015

Carrie Mae Weems

“On the surface it may appear that I am moving away from question of race and gender. However, as a socially engaged artist, I continue to explore these subjects, while turning a poetic eye to the subtle and ephemeral qualities of love: its power to embrace and to destroy.” Eliciting epic contexts from individually framed […]

Shahzia Sikander

Shahzia Sikander’s work is an exquisite fusion of the traditional and the contemporary. In drawing, large-scale wall installations, animation, and video, she blends the tradition of miniature painting from her native Pakistan with the momentum of our globalized world. Sikander seeks to debunk clichés and address specific issues that may resonate with others, without suggesting […]
Jeff Koons portrait

Jeff Koons

Jeff Koons’ monumental Tulips is currently on extended loan to the Beijing US Embassy, the second largest in the world (after Iraq). Part of his Celebration series, the sculpture features the tulip flower, which the Chinese consider a symbol of good luck. Seen by thousands of visitors every year, the work has become an iconic […]

Kiki Smith

“I see stars all the time . . . One of the possibilities of art is an invitation to wander in wonder.” –Nikki Giovanni Inspired by Nikki Giovanni, Kiki Smith has produced an influential body of work that is mystical and beautiful, inviting us to reexamine ourselves, our history, and our place in the world. […]

Cai Guo-Qiang

Trained in stage design, Cai Guo-Qiang brings together drawing, installation, video, and performance in his work. While living in Japan from 1986 to 1995, he explored the properties of gunpowder in his drawings, an inquiry that eventually led to his experimentation with explosives on a massive scale and to the development of his signature explosion […]

Pedro Reyes

Pedro Reyes (Mexico City, 1972) studied architecture but considers himself a sculptor, although his works integrate elements of theater, psychology and activism. His work takes on a great variety of forms, from penetrable sculptures (Capulas, 2002-08) to puppet productions (Baby Marx, 2008), (The Permanent Revolution, 2014). In 2008, Reyes initiated the ongoing Palas por Pistolas […]

Kehinde Wiley

Kehinde Wiley has firmly situated himself within art history’s portrait painting tradition. As a contemporary descendent of a long line of portraitists, including Reynolds, Gainsborough, Titian, and Ingres, among others, Wiley, engages the signs and visual rhetoric of the heroic, powerful, majestic, and the sublime in his representation of urban, black and brown men and […]

Julie Mehretu

Julie Mehretu was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in 1970 and lives and works in New York City and Berlin. She received a Master’s of Fine Art degree with honors from The Rhode Island School of Design in 1997. Mehretu is a recipient of many awards, including the the MacArthur Award (2005), the Berlin Prize: […]

Maya Lin

Maya Lin’s acclaimed work encompasses large-scale environmental installations, intimate studio artworks, architectural works, and memorials. She virtually redefined the idea of monument with her very first work, the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial, and since then has gone on to pursue a remarkable career in both art and architecture, while still being committed to the exploration of […]

Mark Bradford

Mark Bradford was born in 1961 in Los Angeles, California, where he lives and works. In 1997 Bradford graduated with a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts and Master’s of Fine Arts from the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, California. Bradford is a recipient of the 2014 National Medal of the Arts. Other major awards […]

Xu Bing

Xu Bing finds his family roots in Wenling of Zhejiang province. He was born in Chongqing, China in 1955. In 1977 he entered the printmaking department of the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing (CAFA) where completed his bachelor’s degree in 1981 and stayed on as an instructor, earning his MFA in 1987. In 1990, […]

Sam Gilliam

Sam Gilliam was born in Tupelo, Mississippi and was the seventh of eight children to Sam and Estery Gilliam. In 1951, Gilliam graduated from Central High School in Louisville. Gilliam served in the United States Army from 1956 to 1958. He received his Bachelor and Masters degree of Fine Arts at the University of Louisville. […]