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McKnight Distinguished Artist Award

Recognizing the artists who have made significant lifelong contributions to Minnesota, enriching our communities.

The annual $50,000 McKnight Distinguished Artist Award recognizes artists who have made a lifelong commitment to creating art that is locally, regionally, and/or nationally significant.

These artists have chosen to make their lives and careers in Minnesota, thereby making our state a more culturally rich place. First and foremost, they have produced creatively incisive art reflecting their particular and extraordinary point of view.

McKnight Distinguished Artists have also inspired other artists, earned acclaim from audiences, patrons, critics, and other arts professionals, and some have founded and strengthened arts organizations.


at a Glance

1Artist every year

22Artists since 1981

$50kPer award

2020 distinguished artist

Marcie Rendon

In poems, plays, children’s books, and novels, writer Marcie Rendon continues to reveal the resilience and brilliance of Indigenous peoples. The first Native American woman to receive the McKnight Distinguished Artist Award, Rendon is a compelling storyteller, the creative mind behind Raving Native Theater, and a generous mentor and artistic collaborator committed to giving voice and greater visibility to the experiences and perspectives of Native Americans.