On Wednesday, May 18, 2022, the Academy held its annual Ceremonial in its auditorium in Washington Heights, New York City. Over $1.3 million in awards and prizes in architecture, visual arts, literature, and music were presented to 65 recipients, and 21 new members were inducted. David Remnick delivered the keynote address, Edwin Frank of the New York Review Books received the Award for Distinguished Service to the Arts, Phillip Lopate received the Christopher Lightfoot Walker Award of $100,000, playwright Adrienne Kennedy and artist Kara Walker received Gold Medals, and Anna Deavere Smith received the Academy’s Medal for Spoken Language. The Ceremonial was livestreamed; the complete recording may be viewed above.
David Remnick delivered the Blashfield Address, entitled “When Nothing Is True.”
Anna Deavere Smith delivered remarks after receiving the Medal for Spoken Language.
AMERICAN ACADEMY OF ARTS AND LETTERS
The American Academy of Arts and Letters was founded in 1898 as an honor society of the country’s leading architects, artists, composers, and writers. Early members include William Merritt Chase, Childe Hassam, Julia Ward Howe, Henry James, Edward MacDowell, Theodore Roosevelt, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, John Singer Sargent, and Edith Wharton. The Academy’s 300 members are elected for life and pay no dues.
In addition to electing new members as vacancies occur, the Academy seeks to foster and sustain an interest in Literature, Music, and the Fine Arts by administering over 70 awards and prizes, exhibiting art and manuscripts, funding performances of new works of musical theater, purchasing artwork for donation to museums across the country, and presenting talks and concerts.