THE WHITE HOUSE – 2012 National Medal of Arts and Humanities: White House celebrates Al Pacino, Rita Dove and others


Photos: Jordan Schatz/DC Spotlight Newspaper

By Jordan Schatz
Reporter/News Writer
Metro Events

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama honored the winners of the 2012 National Medal of Arts and National Humanities Medal by presenting them with medals in the East Room of the White House on Monday.

“Michelle [Obama] and I love this event,” said the president. “This is something we look forward to every single year, because it’s a moment when America has a chance to pay tribute to extraordinary men and women who have excelled in the arts and the humanities, and who, along the way, have left an indelible mark on American culture.”

President Obama awarded the National Medal of the Arts to eight artists, including actor Al Pacino, country musicsinger Mel Tillis and former poet Rita Dove. Nine literary scholars were presented the National Humanities Medal by the president, a group that included poet John Ashbery.

During the ceremony, Obama remarked, “The arts and humanities do not just reflect America, they shape America. As long as I’m president, I look forward to making sure they are a priority for this country.”

These are “the men and women,” he stated, “who are following in the footsteps of [Walt] Whitman, [Earnest] Hemmingway, [Francis] Souza, [Louis] Armstrong, [Thomas] Eakins and [Norman] Rockwell.”

Others receiving medals for the arts included painter Will Barnet, art collector and philanthropist Emily Rauh Pulitzer, sculptor Martin Puryear and pianist and teacher Andre Watts.

The president also bestowed medals for the humanities to writer and philosopher Kwame Anthony Appiah, author Robert Darton, professor and social critic Andrew Delbanco, painter Charles Rosen, historian Teofilo Ruiz, writer Ramon Saldivar and economist Amartya Sen. “National History Day,” a program that focuses on the celebration of history, also received an award.

Obama added, “I also hear America singing through the artists and writers who will be sitting here a few decades from now with another president.”

Receiving medals for the arts:

Al Pacino, actor

Will Barnet, painter

Emily Rauh Pulitzer, art collector and philanthropist

Martin Puryear, sculptor

Mel Tillis, singer-songwriter

Andre Watts, pianist

Rita Dove, poet

United Service Organization

Receiving medals for the humanities:

Kwame Anthony Appiah, philosopher and novelist

John Ashbery, poet

Robert Darnton, author and librarian

Andrew Delbanco, social critic and professor

National History Day, program which celebrates history

Charles Rosen, pianist and author

Teofilo Ruiz, historian and professor

Ramon Saldivar, writer and professor

Amartya Sen, economist



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