National Medal of Arts
The National Medal of Arts is an award and title created by the United States Congress in 1984, for the purpose of honoring artists and patrons of the arts. It is the highest honor conferred to an individual artist on behalf of the people. Honorees are selected by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), and ceremoniously presented the award by the President of the United States. The medal was designed for the NEA by sculptor Robert Graham.
In 1997, poet Adrienne Rich refused her award as a protest against “inconsistencies” between art and “the cynical politics” of the Clinton White House administration.