Submitted by Tacoma Art Museum
Stephanie Stebich, director of Tacoma Art Museum (TAM), and Rock Hushka, TAM’s chief curator, were proud to accompany Seattle-area artist Camille Patha to the US Department of State’s Office of Art in Embassies’ Medal of Arts awards luncheon on January 21, 2015. US Secretary of State John Kerry and Art in Embassies Director Ellen Susman presented the awards, recognizing seven artists, and honoring selected guests for their gifts of art to the nation. Patha was invited as an art donor; Stebich and Hushka were invited as facilitators of Patha’s gift. The trio traveled to Washington, DC for the event.
Art in Embassies (AIE) was formalized by President John F. Kennedy in 1963 and operates today as a public-private partnership, engaging participants around the globe, including artists, museums, universities, galleries, and private collectors. AIE’s mission is to advance US diplomacy by promoting cross-cultural conversation and understanding through the visual arts and dynamic artist exchange.
“Art in Embassies has played an active diplomatic role by creating meaningful cultural exchange through the visual arts. The exhibitions, permanent collections and artist exchanges connect people from the farthest corners of an international community,” said US Secretary of State John Kerry, adding “Art in Embassies cultivates relationships that transcend boundaries, building trust, mutual respect and understanding among peoples. It is a fulcrum of America’s global leadership as we continue to work for freedom, human rights and peace around the world.”
Dynamic artist Patha’s thoughts are in agreement with Kerry. “Art is an important part of cultural diplomacy, and intended to empower the viewers,” offered Patha, who made a gift of 10 paintings to the Art in Embassies program. Four of those works will be displayed in the American diplomatic facility in Guatemala in the coming year. In 2014, Tacoma Art Museum organized a major retrospective exhibition, A Punch of Color: Fifty Years of Painting by Camille Patha, and published an accompanying catalogue, showcasing Patha’s vibrant, innovative works and recognizing Patha’s contributions to painting and advancing opportunities for women artists.
US Department of State – Medal of Arts distinguished recipients for 2015 are Xu Bing, Mark Bradford, Sam Gilliam, Maya Lin, Julie Mehretu, Pedro Reyes, and Kehinde Wiley, honored for their outstanding commitment and contributions to the AIE program. See AIE’s website for more information about the artists and their works (www.art.state.gov/Projects.aspx).
Stebich and Hushka commented that the historic Benjamin Franklin Room, where the luncheon was hosted, displayed works by a number of American artists whose works are also included in TAM’s recently welcomed gift of the Haub Family Collection of Western American Art; among them, Cyrus Dallin, Gilbert Stuart, and Thomas Moran. Stebich gifted a copy of the museum’s recent catalogue, Art of the American West: The Haub Family Collection, to the Chinese ambassador, to begin discussions of touring the collection in China where recent major western art exhibitions have been well received.
Stebich and Hushka represented TAM alongside leaders and directors from other prominent museums, including the National Gallery of Art, Hirshhorn Museum, National Museum of African Art, National Portrait Gallery, Phillips Collection, Kreeger Museum, Blanton Museum of Art at University of Texas, and more.
Patha, Stebich, and Hushka were further invited to a celebratory evening reception at Blair House, the official residence for foreign dignitaries to Washington DC, located across from the White House, with the award winning artists also in attendance.