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Cai Guo-Qiang Honored with the John D. Rockefeller 3rd Award 
Cai Guo-Qiang Honored with the John D. Rockefeller 3rd Award, New York, 2022. Photo by Lulu Zhang
On May 11, 2022, on the occasion of the organization’s 60th anniversary, the Asian Cultural Council (ACC) is honored to announce that artist Cai Guo-Qiang and violinist Midori Goto have been awarded the 2021 John D. Rockefeller 3rd award.
Asian Cultural Council 60th Anniversary Gala, 2022
Since 1986, the John D. Rockefeller 3rd award has been conferred biannually to arts practitioners to recognize outstanding professional achievement. It commemorates John D. Rockefeller 3rd’s  lifelong interest in Asian art and culture. The monetary award, $50,000, is an investment in the continued advancement of the awardee’s work. Past awardees include the renowned Japanese architect Kengo Kuma.
John D. Rockefeller 3rd (1906–1978)
Cai Guo-Qiang’s award this year follows a unanimous decision by the ACC’s Board of Directors, affirming the artist’s significant contributions to international understanding, practice, and appreciation of Asian art and culture over the years.  The board also expressed their recognition of Cai’s contributions to cultural exchange and investments in cultivating the next generation, efforts that exemplify the highest values of ACC’s work and shine in meeting the criteria for this award.
Cai arriving in New York with his wife Wu Hong Hong and daughter Wen-You Cai, 1995
In 1995, Cai came to New York with the support of ACC to develop his art on the world stage. Since 2012, Cai and his wife Wu Hong Hong have partnered with ACC to establish the ACC Cai Fellowship Program, which has to this day supported over 20 Chinese artists and scholars to come study in the United States…
In his acceptance speech, Cai said the following:
I’m very lucky. While countless artists work hard and struggle their entire lives, I have grown up with the support of the whole world.
I am standing here, not only to express my gratitude for the kindness others have shown me, but also to be thanked for the little bit of aid I was able to give others.
In 1995, as an ACC Japan-US exchange artist, I was preparing to move from Japan to New York with my wife and daughter. At that time, many of my Japanese friends, especially my neighbors, parted with me very begrudgingly. They said, it is so rare to have such a good neighbor. I can still picture these moments vividly in my mind.
All my neighbors knew that I had been awarded an ACC fellowship. But they didn’t know that upon my arrival in the United States, ACC helped me realized a trip to the Nuclear Test Site in Nevada, and that I even exploded a small mushroom cloud there.
Cai realized his first project in the United States The Century with Mushroom Clouds: Project for the 20th Century (Nevada Test Site) with the support of the Asian Cultural Council, 1996
From that point on, I walked faster and farther, leaving my footprints all over the globe. To date, I have realized over 500 projects and have around 100 unrealized projects under my belt! I am rooted in the soil of the world, blossoming and bearing fruit through the nourishment of different cultures across the globe…
Cai's "Project Footprint," spread of Odyssey and Homecoming, 2021
Since 2017, I have embarked on an Individual’s Journey Through Western Art History. I have held exhibitions at the Pushkin, the Prado, the Uffizi Galleries, in Pompeii, in the Guggenheim Museum New York, and other such major museums and cultural sites across the globe. At the end of 2020, the Palace Museum in Beijing opened my solo exhibition Odyssey and Homecoming, which later travelled to the Museum of Art Pudong in Shanghai in July of 2021.
Major museums related to Cai's Individual’s Journey Through Western Art History
This exhibition was not only a contemplation of my dialogues with distinct periods of art history, it has also posed some political questions I wrestle with as an artist, including: Can different cultures reach mutual respect? Can great cultures specific to certain people become shared heritage for all humankind? That is, can we treat all of the great ancestors of mankind as our own ancestors?
For a long time, part of my motivation as an artist supporting ACC was the profound gratitude I felt towards the organization. Another part was my hope to encourage more artists who had received ACC’s support to come out and help younger artists. Therefore, I felt it more appropriate to remain a former awardee instead of a Board member…
However, recently, a number of disheartening trends have caused me to change my mind on this matter. Namely the regression of globalization and the spirit of mutual respect and tolerance between different cultures. The coronavirus has also exacerbated isolationist tendencies, racial discrimination and even hatred towards Asians and Asian-Americans...
As an artist, in addition to responding with my artworks, it is time to contribute more actively, and take a more active role in promoting the values and actions of cultural exchange for which ACC has always advocated...
Thank you, Mr. David Rockefeller, for inviting me to serve as a trustee of ACC, and I thank ACC for giving me this honor and opportunity!
About the Asian Cultural Council
Established in 1980, the Asian Cultural Council (ACC) is a non-profit organization that provides opportunities for artists, scholars, and practitioners in the field of art to travel to Asia or the United States, promoting international cultural exchange. The organization is a grant-making and grant-seeking association, providing monetary support to successful applicants and seeking the aid of organizations, foundations, and individuals to form more fellowships, awards, and other beneficial programs. ACC aims to convey the importance of international cultural exchange, advance international dialogues, and strengthen mutual understanding and respect with the goal of creating a more harmonious and peaceful world.

To date, ACC has sponsored over 6,000 cultural exchanges across 26 countries and regions, and 16 artistic disciplines. ACC is headquartered in New York City with regional offices supported by local ACC foundations and patron groups in Hong Kong, Manila, Taipei, and Tokyo.

The organization was formerly known as the Asian Cultural Program of the JDR 3rd Fund, founded by John D. Rockefeller 3rd in 1963. The founder, John D. Rockefeller 3rd, believed that “the fostering of cultural relations can be a form of insurance for the future of this dangerous but exciting world.”

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