Good evening everyone. It’s a pleasure to host such an inspiring group of artists and creative minds here tonight.
I’ve been in Pristina for three months now, and have joked that my bare walls were a minimalist statement. The truth is I have been waiting for the installation of the art I was able to select from the Art in Embassies program. I love the artwork presented here, and now that it is on my walls, my house has finally started to feel like home.
I have to say, the State Department’s Art in the Embassies programs is one of my favorite perks as an Ambassador. Through this program, Ambassadors are allowed to select artwork for their residences, pieces like this Lichtenstein. As a government employee, I could never afford such an amazing piece. I will enjoy it for my entire time in Kosovo, particularly since I will have to give it – and the others — back when my time here is done.
The Art in the Embassies program is unique in that it allows us to share American art with the rest of the world. As you might have read or seen, Secretary of State John Kerry visited last week. Like the U.S. Government contribution towards cultural heritage preservation in Kosovo that he mentioned, the Art in the Embassies program promotes exchanges through our common language of culture.
Secretary Kerry previously said: “For fifty years, Art in Embassies has played an active diplomatic role by creating meaningful cultural exchange through the visual arts. The exhibitions, permanent collections and artist exchanges connect people from the farthest corners of an international community. Extending our reach, amplifying our voice, and demonstrating our inclusiveness are strategic imperatives for America. Art in Embassies cultivates relationships that transcend boundaries, building trust, mutual respect and understanding among peoples. It is a fulcrum of America’s global leadership as we continue to work for freedom, human rights and peace around the world.”
The pieces I have selected speak to me personally. I have a few pop artworks, graphics and black and white photos. Some of them represent California life; some of them are popular American artwork; some of them appeal to me as the son of an architect. It is like having a bit of my late father here with me in Kosovo.
Thank you again for joining me tonight to enjoy these rare and original pieces of art.