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Two Asian-American Women Honored With National Medals of Arts

Two Asian-American women will stand among the dozen recipients of the 2013 National Medals of Arts, the nation’s highest honor given for achievements in the arts. Writer Maxine Hong Kingston and architect and arts educator Billie Tsien were selected by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) to receive the award, according to an announcement made Tuesday by the NEA. Other honorees this year include Dreamworks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg and singer Linda Rondstadt.

President Obama will present the medals during a ceremony at the White House next Monday. At the same ceremony, the president will also award the National Humanities Medals, including one to East Asian Studies scholar William de Bary.

Kingston is best known as the author of fictional works and memoirs detailing the lives of Asian Americans. This award joins her long list of previous accolades, including the National Book Award and a National Humanities Medal. Tsien, who was awarded alongside her husband and business partner Tod Williams, has designed buildings for numerous cultural and educational institutions, including the American Folk Art Museum in New York City. In 2007, Tsien was inducted to the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Image: Author Maxine Hong Kingston sits in her meditation room at home in Oakland, Calif., on April 10, 2001.
Author Maxine Hong Kingston sits in her meditation room at home in Oakland, Calif., on April 10, 2001. ERIC RISBERG / AP, file

Image: Architecture Award honoree, Billie Tsien attends The Fashion Group International's 21st Annual Night of Stars at Cipriani's 42nd Street on Oct. 28, 2004 in New York City.
Architecture Award honoree, Billie Tsien attends The Fashion Group International's 21st Annual Night of Stars at Cipriani's 42nd Street on Oct. 28, 2004 in New York City. Evan Agostini / Getty Images file

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