Yaddo gave its inaugural Yaddo Artist Medal in May to Pulitzer Prize-winning author Philip Roth.
Roth received the medal, designed by the award-winning Yaddo artist James Siena, at the annual New York City benefit on Wednesday, May 14, at the Edison Ballroom in New York City.
In addition to the artist honoree Roth, the New York Racing Association was recognized as a corporate honoree.
“It’s a great pleasure for us to begin a new tradition by presenting Philip Roth with the inaugural Yaddo Artist Medal,” said Yaddo President Elaina Richardson. “It’s long been our custom to award a medal for achievement and service to two graduating seniors at Saratoga High, and we’d wanted for some time to expand on that tradition in a way that reflected our core history, and century-long commitment, to encouraging, supporting, and inspiring the work of artists and writers.”
The Yaddo Artist Medal will be awarded annually at the benefit to an artist of outstanding talent whose achievements and commitment to their field exemplifies Yaddo’s own tradition of excellence and community.
The Yaddo Artist Medal was produced by Walla Walla Foundry in Walla Walla, Wash. Officials said the process began by creating a 3D model based on designs submitted by Siena. A combination of machining, etching, and hand finishing is being used to fabricate the medal to achieve the highest possible level of detail in the finished piece.
Roth had his first residency at Yaddo in 1964, returning six times over the next eight years. During those visits, Roth wrote most of “Portnoy’s Complaint,” “The Breast,” and “The Great American Novel.” He dedicated “The Breast” to Yaddo as “the best friend a writer could have.”
One of the most decorated American writers of his era, Roth’s first book, the 1959 collection “Goodbye, Columbus,” won the National Book Award for Fiction. He has since received the National Medal of Arts at the White House and the American Academy of Arts and Letters Gold Medal in Fiction.
A two-time recipient of the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award, Roth has been recognized with the PEN/Faulkner Award three times. In 1997 he won the Pulitzer Prize for “American Pastoral.” Recently Roth received the National Humanities Medal at the White House and was named the fourth recipient of the Man Booker International Prize. Last year France bestowed upon him its highest recognition, Commander of the Legion of Honor.
Siena is a New York-based artist whose complex, rule-based linear abstractions have situated him firmly within the trajectory of modern American art. He has been featured in over 100 solo and group exhibitions since 1981, including the 2004 Whitney Biennial. His work is part of many prestigious public and private collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Museum of Modern Art, New York.
Siena was a guest artist at Yaddo in both 2004 and 2007. He was elected to membership in 2005 and then to the board of directors in 2011.
Photo Courtesy Yaddo