"Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going?"
The questions posed by Paul Gauguin in his masterpiece are a pure reflection of the feelings of Senator John Heinz for the arts. Viewing the arts as a medium through which a society examines its conscience and searches for its identity, John Heinz took joy in the beauty and in the ideas inherent in every aspect of the creative process.
Just as important to Senator Heinz were the myriad aspects of the humanities. A scholar who obtained a special honors degree in History, the Arts and Letters at Yale University, Senator Heinz learned to appreciate the role that humanities play in building awareness of both the self and society at large. He loved poetry, painting, the essay, and works of advanced scholarship. Senator Heinz also honored those men and women who take on the vital role of teacher and help us all to understand and value a culture's highest achievements.
Understanding his passion for the arts and humanities is inherent to understanding the Senator himself. The possessor of a wide-ranging intellectual curiosity, John Heinz first wanted to know how things worked. Then, he focused on how to make them work better. John Heinz lived his life by the Socratic creed, the philosophy that life is made worth living by continuous questioning and examination. He believed that recognizing that life is an ongoing process of education is the obligation of every individual. And, even more important, that all of us take care to apply the lessons we've learned to our everyday lives.
The Heinz Award in the Arts and Humanities seeks to recognize the individual creator, as well as those who best preserve, teach, interpret, and advance this spirit of curiosity and faith in the power of the human mind.