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November 19, 2019 Comments Off on Smithsonian Honors Lil Nas X and Heidi Schreck Views: 1455 *Resist. Protest. Obstruct. Inform., Arts, Arts & Entertainment, Award Worthy, Music, Stage

Smithsonian Honors Lil Nas X and Heidi Schreck

Lil Nas X.
Photo: Kayla Reefer

Smithsonian Magazine announced the winners for this year’s American Ingenuity Awards and among those honored are out gay musician Lil Nas X who also just won the first CMA award for an out gay country music performer for his hit song, Old Town Road, as well as a writer/performer with Seattle ties: Heidi Schreck was honored for her award winning theatrical solo show, WHAT THE CONSTITUTION MEANS TO ME.

Also honored: painter Amy Sherald, inventor Alex Kipman, restaurateur José Andrés and two teams of scientists and doctors.

Heidi Schreck
Photo:  Celeste Sloman

The full press release and others honored:

The Annual American Ingenuity Awards Honor Individuals Who Are Transforming American Culture 

Washington, D.C. – Nov. 19, 2019 Smithsonian magazine, the flagship publication of the Smithsonian Institution, today announced the honorees of the eighth annual American Ingenuity Awards. This year’s awards honor individuals across seven wide-ranging categories: Youth, Visual Arts, Social Progress, Technology, Life Sciences, Physical Sciences and Performing Arts. 

The winners will be featured in Smithsonian magazine’s special December American Ingenuity Awards issue, available now at and on newsstands Nov. 26. 

The full list of 2019 American Ingenuity Awards honorees includes: 

  • Lil Nas X, rapper-singer-songwriter who rose to stardom with his genre-bending, record-breaking single “Old Town Road,” honored for Youth.
  • Amy Sherald, painter known for her portrait of former First Lady Michelle Obama, whose work seeks to fit African Americans into the canon of American portraiture, honored for Visual Arts.
  • José Andrés, restaurateur and founder of World Central Kitchen, the nonprofit that is revolutionizing the way emergency food aid is delivered, honored for Social Progress.
  • Alex Kipman, Brazilian-born inventor and visionary behind many of Microsoft’s most pioneering products, including the “mixed-reality” headset known as HoloLens, honored for Technology.
  • Ewelina Mamcarz, Stephen Gottschalk and Brian Sorrentino (posthumously), the team of doctors at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital who developed a cure for X-linked severe combined immunodeficiency—a genetic disorder colloquially known as “bubble boy” disease, honored for Life Sciences.
  • Sheperd Doeleman and the Event Horizon Telescope Team, Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and Harvard University, who led a team of more than 200 researchers in the international effort to create the first-ever image of a black hole, honored for Physical Sciences.
  • Heidi Schreck, writer and star of What the Constitution Means to Me, a play that opens an honest debate over the meaning, value and limitations of America’s founding document, honored for Performing Arts.

Past winners have included SpaceX and Tesla founder Elon Musk; Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos; singer-songwriter Janelle Monáe; Grammy-winning musician John Legend; writer and actor John Krasinski; former United States Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith; novelist Dave Eggers; Apple designer Jony Ive; Hamilton composer Lin-Manuel Miranda; the Parkland survivors who created the March for Our Lives and many more.

“Our American Ingenuity Awards honor those individuals who are spearheading revolutionary change in society,” said Maria Keehan, creative director of Smithsonian magazine. “We are celebrating visionaries across a multitude of platforms, from those aiding disaster victims worldwide to those developing a life-saving gene therapy or redefining what is means to mix genres in music. We are proud to honor this year’s class, all of whom are at the top of their respective fields.”

About Smithsonian Media 

Smithsonian Media is composed of its flagship publication, Smithsonian magazine, Air & Space magazine and In addition, Smithsonian Media oversees the licensing relationship with CBS/Showtime for the Smithsonian Channel. Smithsonian Media is a division of Smithsonian Enterprises, the revenue-generating business unit of the Smithsonian. The Smithsonian is the world’s largest museum and research complex consisting of 19 museums, the National Zoological Park and nine research facilities. Approximately 29 million people from around the world visit the museums annually. Visit and

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