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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

2019 distinguished artist

Jim Denomie

With bold brushstrokes and an unblinking eye, Jim Denomie creates powerful narrative paintings that invite new perspectives on historical and contemporary events in Indigenous and American life. The Ojibwe painter, recipient of the 2019 McKnight Distinguished Artist Award, combines vivid hues and disarming humor to explore painful histories and present day conflicts.

Jim Denomie, Distinguished Artist Award Recipient
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