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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Kudos to Kehinde Wiley

Kehinde Wiley Receives Medal of Arts Award

Washington, D.C./Los Angeles

Kehinde Wiley
Kehinde Wiley is still making noise in the art world. On Jan. 21, 2015, Wiley received the U.S. State Department Medal of Arts award. 

Secretary of State, John Kerry, handed out the award to Wiley, and six other artists, during a luncheon ceremony in the department’s Benjamin Franklin Room in Washington, D.C.

The Department of State’s office of Art in Embassies honored Wiley, Xu Bing, Mark Bradford, Sam Gilliam, Maya Lin, Julie Mehretu and Pedro Reyes for their “commitment and contributions to the Art in Embassies program and international cultural exchange. 

What is AIE?

According to, Art in Embassies was initiated by the Museum of Modern Art in 1953, and formalized as part of the Department of State by the Kennedy Administration in 1963. One of the United States’ premier arts organizations, AIE’s public-private partnership has engaged over 20,000 individual and institutional participants in over 200 venues in 190 countries worldwide.

Over the past 52 years, AIE has played a role in U.S. public diplomacy by promoting cross-cultural dialogue through the visual arts, and by sponsoring dynamic artist exchanges worldwide. In 2012, AIE initiated the biennial U.S. Department of State – Medal of Arts award to formally acknowledge artists who have played an instrumental role in promoting creativity, collaboration and understanding in support of American diplomacy. 

So you see, this is why Wiley won! Kudos to you Kehinde!

More on Wiley

For the past year or so, I’ve been keeping an eye out for emerging multicultural artists. I scour art shows, the internet and social media feeds to educate myself on who is making moves in the art world, specifically multicultural artists. Why? Because, I love art and I’m an aspiring fine art collector and art critic. 

Wiley’s most recent achievement popped up on my radar when the online contemporary art magazine, Art Observed, tweeted out the tip from New York Observer’s culture section.

Kehinde Wiley: Young Man Holding a Skull, 2013 Oil on canvas

Wiley’s Los Angeles-based gallery, Roberts & Tilton, must be proud and I’m sure will be busy with affluent buyers. I just wish that this soft news piece was posted somewhere on one of the media sites that represents Black America, like,, or HuffPost BlackVoices, instead of the bad news that is always covered about Blacks in America. 

(At the time of this post, none of the Black media news sites mentioned above, acknowledged Wiley's achievement.)

I actually hinted toward this issue I have with Black media when I first wrote about Wiley in March 2014. (See: Who is Making Noise in the Art Scene: Kehinde Wiley) Why had a fabulous piece on Wiley at the bottom of their site still boggles my mind. 

Medal of Arts Award Winners 

It was nice to see that the AIE handed out awards to more than one person of color, which also included women. As some of you may know, the art world tends to be dominated by men. But Julie Mehretu, of Ababa, Ethiopia, and Maya Lin who “redefined the idea of monument with her very first work, the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial," managed to stand out from the male dominated art world. (Click here for more detail on the award recipients) 

Are you an emerging multicultural artist making moves in the art world? Show us what you got in the comment box below, or e-mail your suggestions to

–– @TCsViews

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