By Jordan Schatz
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.”
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