Sandra Cisneros, Santiago Jiménez Jr., and Luiz Valdez, three artists affiliated with the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center, will be honored by President Barack Obama at the White House on Thursday, Sept. 22 as winners of the 2015 National Medals of Arts and the National Humanities Medals.
Other winners include writer and actor Mel Brooks, actor Morgan Freeman, and music producer Berry Gordy. To read the full list of honorees, click here.
Every year, the President of the United States awards the National Medal of Arts to deserving individuals or groups for their outstanding contributions to the excellence and growth of the arts in the U.S. It is the highest award given to artists and arts patrons by the federal government.
Cisneros is an author and poet who has won many accolades, including two fellowships with the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) in 1981 and 1988. Her literary works, such as The House on Mango Street, have been critically acclaimed for exploring issues of race, class, and gender in a multi-cultural context. She is the former literary director at the Guadalupe and started the Macondo Writers’ Workshop there in 1995.
To read Cisneros’ interview with the NEA, click here.
Jimenez Jr. is a tejano and conjunto musician who is widely considered one of the best two-button accordionists playing today. He has been featured several times at the Guadalupe, most notably playing at the annual Tejano Conjunto Festival every May. Jimenez currently is the artist-in-residence at Carnitas Uruapan, a restaurant down the street from the Guadalupe. He was an NEA National Heritage Fellow in 2000.
Valdez is an actor, playwright, and director who has written extensively about Chicano culture in his works. He is best known for his 1987 film, La Bamba, about the life and death of Richie Valens, the Chicano rock star who died at the age of 17 in the same plane crash that killed Buddy Holly. Valdez has collaborated with the Guadalupe many times, most recently narrating a documentary about Willie Velasquez, a Latino pioneer involved with voter outreach.
“These National Medal of Arts recipients have helped to define our nation’s cultural legacy through the artistic excellence of their creative traditions, and I join the President in congratulating and thanking them for their contributions,” stated NEA Chairman Jane Chu in a news release.
For those interested in viewing the awards ceremony, the event will be live streamed on the White House’s website.
The learn more about the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center, click here.
Top image: Sandra Cisneros addresses the audience during her book signing luncheon. Photo by Scott Ball.