Campus News

David C. Driskell H'89 Named National Humanities Medalist

Story posted December 27, 2000

David C. Driskell Hí89 was recently named a 2000 National Humanities Medalist. The award, administered by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), was bestowed upon Driskell and 11 others by President Clinton December 20 in a ceremony held at D.A.R. Constitution Hall, Washington, D.C.

"The 2000 National Humanities Medalists are distinguished individuals who have made extraordinary contributions to American cultural life and thought," said NEH Chairman William R. Ferris. "Through their powers of creativity and vision, [they] are helping to preserve, interpret and expand the nationís cultural heritage. Their work represents an invaluable public service."

A scholar and curator, Driskell is one of the worldís leading authorities on African American art. As a professor of art and art history at Howard and Fisk universities and currently Distinguished University Professor of Art, Emeritus at the University of Maryland, he has trained many art historians, curators and educators. He has helped organize major African American art exhibitions, including the pathbreaking 1976 Los Angeles County Museum of Art show "Two Centuries of Black American Art, 1750-1950." This exhibition toured four museums throughout the country and led to new research, discovery of new artistic talent and the spawning of other African American exhibitions.

He also curated "Hidden Heritage: Afro-American Art, 1800-1950" (1985), "Harlem Renaissance: Art of Black America" (1987), and "Introspective: Contemporary Art by Americans and Brazilians of African Descent" (1989). His television documentary, "Hidden Heritage: The Roots of Black American Painting," won critical acclaim on four continents. Driskell has lectured on African American art in institutions across the nation and serves on the boards of the American Federation of Arts and the Cosby Foundation Scholarship Advisory Committee. He is a member and former chair of the Smithsonian Institutionís Commission of the National Museum of African Art.

Driskell was a visiting professor of art at Bowdoin in the spring of 1973, and was named Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts in 1989. Among his other Maine roots, he has taught and serves on the board of the Skowhegan School of Painting & Sculpture, and maintains a summer residence in Falmouth.

The National Humanities Medal recognizes those who expand, support and contribute to the nationís understanding of the humanities. Other recipients for 2000 included writers Ernest J. Gaines, Barbara Kingsolver, Toni Morrison, and Virginia Driving Hawk Sneve, musician/preservationist Quincy Jones, and civil rights activist/author Will D. Campbell.

Click here to read David C. Driskellís biography.

Click here to visit the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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