Alanis Obomsawin Recipient of the 63rd Edward MacDowell Medal

July 23, 2023

More than a thousand arts lovers from around the region gathered on Sunday, July 23 as the 63rd Edward MacDowell Medal was presented to esteemed filmmaker Alanis Obomsawin during a free and open-to-the-public celebration.

After a brief award ceremony, visitors enjoyed a picnic lunch before artists-in-residence opened their studios to the public, giving attendees the unique opportunity to look behind the scenes of the nation’s oldest artist residency and speak with the creators about their work.

Obomsawin was selected by a panel chaired by Tabitha Jackson, former director of the Sundance Film Festival. Joining her on the panel are Bird Runningwater, who guides the Sundance Institute’s investment in Native American and Indigenous filmmakers; MacDowell Fellows and filmmakers Natalia Almada, Rodney Evans, and So Yong Kim; MacDowell Fellow and Board Member Julia Solomonoff, and board member Josh Siegel, film curator at The Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Award-winning speaker and best-selling author Jesse Wente gave the presentation speech on Obomsawin’s impact on the culture and her career in documentary filmmaking.

View videos and images of the day below.

Alanis Obomsawin portrait. Wearing all black and donning a silver brooch and earrings, she smiles brightly.

Julie Artacho photo, courtesy National Film Board of Canada

MacDowell's 2023 Medal Day ceremony was attended by more than 1,000 arts lovers on July 23, 2023.
MacDowell's 2023 Medal Day ceremony was attended by more than 1,000 arts lovers on July 23, 2023.
MacDowell's Madam Chairman of the Board and Fellow Nell Painter speaks about the histories we all need to face in her welcoming remarks.
Christine Fisher addresses her first Medal Day crowd on a sunny and warm Medal Day when MacDowell honored filmmaker Alanis Obomsawin as its 63rd Edward MacDowell Medalist.
Chi Kaitano addresses the Medal Day crowd in her new role as executive director and talks about her plan to sustain and amplify the venerable legacy of MacDowell.
Resident Director David Macy explains the renaming of Kirby Studio to Van Zorn Studio during the July 23rd 2023 ceremony celebrating 63rd Edward MacDowell Medalist Alanis Obomsawin.
Best-selling author Jesse Wente, chair of Canada's Council for the Arts, speaks about Alanis Obomsawin's impact on the culture.

Scenes from the Afternoon

Alanis Obomsawin, Recipient of the 63rd Edward MacDowell Medal

Alanis Obomsawin is an Abenaki filmmaker who was born in New Hampshire. Her landmark documentaries such as Kanehsatake: 270 Years of Resistance (1993) and Incident at Restigouche (1984) are some of the 56 films to her credit. Obomsawin began her career as a singer, writer, and storyteller, but came to the attention of Canada’s National Film Board and was appointed consultant for Indigenous filmmaking at the public production company. She began making her own films in 1971, has received numerous international honors, and her work was showcased in a 2008 retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. She is a Companion of the Order of Canada (C.C.), Grande Officière of the Ordre national du Québec (G.O.Q.), and a member of the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec (C.A.L.Q.), and holds other distinctions and honorary degrees.

About the Edward MacDowell Medal

The Edward MacDowell Medal has been awarded annually since 1960 to an individual artist who has made an outstanding contribution to their field. These artists include Leonard Bernstein, John Updike, Georgia O'Keeffe, I.M. Pei, Stephen Sondheim, and Toni Morrison. The artistic discipline in which the award is given rotates in order to celebrate all of the creative fields practiced at MacDowell. Following the ceremony, visitors enjoy a picnic lunch and tour open studios. Both the award ceremony and the open studios are free, and open to the public.

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Edward MacDowell Medalist

Artists of Medal Day

Learn about our artists-in-residence, and discover a little about their processes and current projects. Visit the artists in their studios on Medal Day after lunch and until 4 p.m. It's a rare opportunity for the public to get a look at where art is made at MacDowell.

Learn about the Artists

Other Medal Days