East Room, The White House
5:18 P.M. EDT
THE FIRST LADY: Hello, everyone, and welcome to the White House. (Applause.)
Too often, our world asks us to sprint from moment to moment, from meeting to meeting. We all know that feeling, right?
You know, I just finished my classes and quickly rushed back to the White House and changed my clothes for this event. (Applause.)
But art stops us in our tracks.
It feeds our spirit when we’re hungry for something more. It shows the contours of our sorrows and our joys so that we know that we’re not alone. It brings us back to the beauty and humanity of every moment.
Art matters. And that is why we’re here today.
So, I want to congratulate all the amazing recipients of this prize. President Biden and I are honored to host you at the White House. (Applause.)
In drawings of the night sky, in the lines of a sculpture, in the shade of newly built structures, in the ringing notes of a trumpet — (laughs) — in the staging of a play, the artists we honor today invite us to join a conversation with the world, to step beyond the limits of our imagination.
It’s a conversation that speaks across borders, languages, and centuries, as we tilt our heads to see just one more angle, bend our ear to take in just one more note.
Our hearts and hopes reach toward each other, and in that moment, we feel the hum of generations that are past and future; the gravitational pull of art as it changes us, creating something new and full of promise.
And when we step away, we shine a little bit brighter, seeing the world around us in new, more beautiful colors.
Thank you all for joining us to celebrate these amazing artists. It’s wonderful to see members of the Cabinet — Secretary Haaland — where are you?
SECRETARY HAALAND: I’m right here.
THE FIRST LADY: Ah, that way. (Laughs.) That way. I did see you.
— Ambassador Tai and Representatives Pallone and Matsui — here supporting this program.
Secretary Clinton, Hillary, it’s an honor to welcome you back to the White House. (Applause.)
Wow. You are so loved. (Laughter.)
Your lifetime of work has left an indelible mark on this country. Thank you for always doing all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can. (Applause.)
And if you don’t know it, Hillary is a fellow educator now. So, good luck this semester. I know you’re going to love it. (Laughter.)
And I also want to thank Mr. Hieda and Their Excellencies, the Ambassadors from Japan to the United States and the United Nations. Thank you for joining us today.
Every spring, cherry blossoms burst into bloom in our capital city, reminders of our strong friendship with Japan. And earlier this year, Mrs. Kishida and I planted one more — a new cherry tree on the White House Lawn. (Applause.)
But the ties that stretch between our nations are not just forged by heads of state. They are also created by people as we share the art and the pieces of our culture that make our souls sing.
Thank you. (Applause.)
END 5:23 P.M. EDT