Yoko Ono to receive MacDowell Medal

Yoko Ono is this year’s recipient of the Edward MacDowell Medal.

Yoko Ono is this year’s recipient of the Edward MacDowell Medal. —COURTESY PHOTO

Published: 04-22-2024 12:08 PM

Artist and activist Yoko Ono is this year’s recipient of the Edward MacDowell Medal. 

Ono, whose career as an artist began in the downtown New York scene in the early 1960s and has continued across seven decades, has developed a body of work encompassing performance, experimental filmmaking, conceptual and participatory art, music, visual arts and global peace activities. Her work runs from the avant-garde to the pop and dance music charts.  

“It’s an incredible honor that my mother, Yoko Ono, will be awarded the MacDowell Medal,” stated her son Sean Ono Lennon. "The history and list of past recipients is truly remarkable. It makes me very proud to see her art appreciated and celebrated in this way.” 

MacDowell has awarded the Medal annually since 1960 to individuals who have had an indelible impact on culture.

“MacDowell is honored to celebrate Yoko Ono for her groundbreaking, distinctly inventive and enormously influential interdisciplinary art,” stated MacDowell Board Chair Nell Painter. “There has never been anyone like her; there has never been work like hers. Over some seven decades, she has rewarded eyes, provoked thought, inspired feminists and defended migrants through works of a wide-ranging imagination. Enduringly fresh and pertinent, her uniquely powerful oeuvre speaks to our own times, so sorely needful of her leitmotif: Peace.”

Painter will present the 64th MacDowell Medal to Ono’s longtime music manager, David Newgarden, in a brief ceremony on Medal Day, Sunday, July 21. Ono, the first Asian woman to receive the honor, joins a list of past medal recipients that includes Robert Frost (1962), Willem de Kooning (1975), Isamu Noguchi (1982), Louise Bourgeois (1990), Stephen Sondheim (2013), Toni Morrison (2016), David Lynch (2017) and Art Spiegelman (2018).

“Her seminal performance work ‘Cut Piece’ confronts issues of gender, class and cultural identity, immediately becoming the feminist classic it remains,” stated Painter. “Early in the Vietnam War, Ono and her husband John Lennon collaborated on ‘Give Peace a Chance’ and ‘War Is Over,’ adding ‘If you want it’ – words we cherish right now. Only one other interdisciplinary artist, Merce Cunningham in 2003, has received the Edward MacDowell Medal. We are thrilled that Yoko Ono has honored us in this way.”

American avant-garde multimedia artist, Grammy-winning composer and musician Laurie Anderson chaired this year’s  selection panel. Other members included Bushwick Starr Arts Center cofounder and MacDowell board member Noel Allain, MacDowell Fellow and choreographer Bebe Miller, National Black Theatre CEO Sade Lythcott, MacDowell Fellow and interdisciplinary artist Christopher Doyle and Arts Student League Artistic and Executive Director Michael Hall.

Article continues after...

Yesterday's Most Read Articles

Peterborough voters approve a $11.7 million bond to fund a new Fire and Rescue Station
Resident, officials get into dispute
ConVal’s Kimberly Rizzo Saunders named Superintendent of the Year
New look at Gregg Lake
BUSINESS: Christine Eber opens The 603 Nail Salon in Jaffrey
Former librarian, Jaffrey native, Cynthia Hamilton passes at 92

The presentation of the Edward MacDowell Medal in the Arts is a free, public event on July 21 at MacDowell’s 450-acre wooded campus. It is the one day each year the grounds are open to the public, and it offers arts lovers the opportunity to visit 31 open, working studios to see art being created and speak with the artists-in-residence.