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Artists as Ambassadors

MICA alumni are recognized by U.S. Department of State's Art in Embassies program

Posted 03.11.13 by mica communications

Categories
General Fine Arts
Photography
LeRoy E. Hoffberger School of Painting
Mt. Royal School of Art
Rinehart School of Sculpture
MICA Honors
Alumni
Faculty
Medal of Arts winners Cai Guo-Qiang, Jeffrey Koons ’76 (general fine arts), Shahzia Sikander, Kiki Smith, and Carrie Mae Weems with former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. (Photo by Tony Powell)

Members of the MICA community are internationally recognized among the most dynamic artists in the world. In fact, more than 60 MICA faculty members and alumni have been commissioned by the U.S. Department of State's Arts in Embassies program, which was inaugurated to enhance U.S. public diplomacy through cross-cultural dialogue centered around the visual arts and artist exchange.

One of those artists is alumnus Jeffrey Koons '76 (general fine arts), who is known for his unique blend of conceptual art with popular culture. Koons, who collaborated with Art in Embassies at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing as part of an exchange program, was one of five artists awarded the U.S. Department of State's first ever Medal of Arts for their outstanding commitment to international cultural exchange through the Art in Embassies program.

During her time as U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton presented the award to Koons as part of the 50th anniversary of the Art in Embassies program, which was inaugurated by President John F. Kennedy in 1963 to further the cross-cultural mission of the U.S. Department of State by providing a window for the world to see American works of art.

"Art is also a tool of diplomacy. It is one that reaches beyond governments, past all of the official conference rooms and the presidential palaces, to connect with people all over the world," Clinton said in her opening remarks at the Art in Embassies 50th Anniversary Luncheon, moments before Koons was given his medal.

WATCH: former Secretary of State Hilary Clinton's remarks at the Art in Embassies 50th Anniversary luncheon

 

Of course, Koons isn't the only member of the MICA community to have his artwork exhibited as part of the program. For many MICA artists, the opportunity to have their work on display in embassies has been a high honor. Allan P. Friedlander '68 (general fine arts), who has had a wide-ranging career working in Hollywood, living abroad in Israel, working at a poster company for 20 years, and most recently moving to San Francisco to become a full-time painter, said it is nice to be recognized among many of the famous artists associated with the Art in Embassies program.

At the recommendation of an Art in Embassies curator, U.S. Ambassador to Kazakhstan Kenneth J. Fairfax and his wife, Nyetta Yarkin, chose to display the artist's landscape paintings because the work mirrored the scenery in Kazakhstan. "They wanted to make the correlation between the landscape in America and the landscape there," Friedlander explained.

Another person who found himself among the prestigious group of artists selected for the program is Christopher Myers '94 (photography). Although fine art and editorial photography has taken him across the United States and to Eastern Europe and Iceland, Myers was excited to find out his work would be displayed in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina in 2009. He hopes to get his chance to visit the country himself when Vanishing Boundaries, a group show curated by Sarah Tanguy-the same curator who connected him with the program-travels there.

"The program is great and other artists should reach out to it," Myers said.

Shinique Smith '92 '03 (general fine arts, Mount Royal School of Art) has had her art displayed in U.S. embassies in both New York and Johannesburg, South Africa. Smith said her education at the College prepared her for the work that she does. "I cherish my time spent there," Smith said.

Other members of the MICA community who have been selected for the program include Willie Birch '73 (Art Education), Mina Cheon '99 (Hoffberger), former LeRoy E. Hoffberger School of Painting Director Grace Hartigan (1992-2008), faculty member Philip Koch, faculty member Eve Laramee, Morris Louis '32 (general fine arts), Joyce J. Scott '70 (art education), Jenny Sidhu Mullins '09 (Hoffberger), and Elizabeth Turk '94 (Rinehart).

WATCH: Jeff Koons talk about receiving the Medal of Honor with Time


Top image caption: Medal of Arts winners Cai Guo-Qiang, Jeffrey Koons ’76 (general fine arts), Shahzia Sikander, Kiki Smith, and Carrie Mae Weems with former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. (Photo by Tony Powell)

MICA Artists as Ambassadors

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