The artists are being saluted for their commitment and contribution to the State Department’s Art in Embassies program, a private-public diplomatic effort that uses visual art to promote cross-cultural understanding and collaboration.
Created in 2012, the biennial award is given to artists who have been instrumental in promoting “creativity, collaboration and understanding in support of American diplomacy,” according to the State Department.
Art in Embassies was founded by the Museum of Modern Art in 1953 before becoming a part of the Department of State in 1963. Since its inception, it has engaged more than 20,000 artists in 190 countries around the world.
In its first year, the Medal of Arts was awarded to Carrie Mae Weems, Jeff Koons, Cai Guo-Qiang, Shahzia Sikander and Kiki Smith.