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Four UT Austin Alumni Receive Texas’ Top Honor for Contributions to the Arts

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Texas Medal of Arts Award winners Matthew McConaughey, Craig Dykers, Elaine Molinar and Stephen Harrigan.

Four University of Texas at Austin alumni received Texas Medal of Arts Awards last night at the Texas Cultural Trust’s awards show and gala in Austin. Academy Award-winning actor Matthew McConaughey (B.S. RTF ’93), boundary-breaking architects Elaine Molinar (B.Arch. ’88) and Craig Dykers (B.Arch. ’85) of international firm Snøhetta, and author, journalist and screenwriter Stephen Harrigan (B.A. ’70) earned this prominent recognition for their contributions to the cultural fabric of Texas.

The Texas Cultural Trust’s Texas Medal of Arts Award is the state’s most respected arts distinction. Now in its 10th biennial year, the awards underscore the power of the arts to improve children’s education, contribute to the unique and proud cultural heritage of Texas and stimulate the state’s economy.

UT Austin was well represented at this year’s event, which recognized leaders in 10 categories spanning the visual, performing and literary arts, architecture, and arts education.

Honorees were selected from a nomination pool by an awards committee appointed by the Texas Cultural Trust, including UT Austin School of Architecture Dean Michelle Addington.

Elaine Molinar and Craig Dykers, School of Architecture alumni and founding partners of international architecture, landscape and design studio Snøhetta, received the 2019 award for Architecture. Their innovative projects have created and transformed high-profile public spaces such as the Alexandria Library in Egypt; the National September 11 Memorial Museum Pavilion and Times Square, both in New York; the Norwegian National Opera and Ballet in Oslo; and many others. Next up, their work will bring them back to the UT Austin campus as they reimagine the Blanton Museum of Art’s outdoor spaces.

Stephen Harrigan, an alumnus of the College of Liberal Arts, received the 2019 award for Literary Arts. Harrigan is widely known as the bestselling author of “The Gates of the Alamo” and other novels, and he is closely identified with Texas Monthly, where he is a writer-at-large and has published articles and essays since the magazine’s founding in 1973. For two decades, he taught at UT Austin’s James A. Michener Center for Writers. Harrigan is also a founding member of the Texas Book Festival.

Moody College of Communication alumnus Matthew McConaughey received the 2019 Film award. One of Hollywood’s most sought-after actors, McConaughey is also a producer, director, philanthropist and UT Austin professor. He has shaped American cinema as we know it today through roles in critically acclaimed films such as “Dallas Buyers Club,” “Dazed and Confused,” “A Time to Kill” and many others. His foundation, just keep livin, empowers high school students by providing them with tools to lead active lives and make healthy choices.