Remarks at the Reception in Honor of the Alice Aycock Sculpture Exhibition

U.S. Ambassador’s Residence, Stockholm
Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Your Royal Highnesses, ladies and gentlemen, friends, I am honored to be able to host you this afternoon to celebrate the exhibition of works in Royal Djurgården by the distinguished American artist, Ms. Alice Aycock.

It has been a privilege for the U.S. Embassy and me to support the Princess Estelle Cultural Foundation in featuring Ms. Aycock’s remarkable large-scale, outdoor sculptures here in Stockholm over the past three months.  And I am honored to have been able to display her indoor work “Waltzing Matilda” inside my home that entire time.  As some of you already know, it is a smaller version of the same sculpture that was installed on Park Avenue in New York City in 2014.  I hope you had a chance to admire it in its temporary setting in the garden for this event.

During the Foundation’s virtual inauguration of Ms. Aycock’s sculpture exhibition in June of this year, I noted that the arts have been an integral part of the history of the United States.  We have benefited from the diversity of artistic influences that have arrived on American shores, and these influences then become mixed, tempered, and transformed to become something distinctly American.

Ms. Aycock’s works are a shining example of this American artistic tradition – wholly original, but also the next step in an ongoing conversation.  I spoke in June as well of the importance I attach, as the U.S. Ambassador, to deepening the already strong U.S.-Swedish relationship through cultural exchange and the arts.  However alarming world events can be, and this year has given us some unprecedented times, the arts encourage our societies to unite around the beauty and creativity of artistic works.

I have enjoyed taking walks this summer on the beautiful island of Djurgården and seeing the six sculptures from Ms. Aycock’s “Turbulence” series.  I have also enjoyed seeing Swedes stop and appreciate these sculptures, which are inspired by extreme weather changes and movements – waves, wind, whirlpools, turbines, and vortexes.  Ms. Aycock’s sculptures of architectural and mechanical fantasies combine logic and imagination and also intermingle science and faith.  For these works of art to be exhibited abroad in Sweden is truly a special opportunity and one I cherish because of the connections it has created between our two countries.  Thank you, your Royal Highnesses, and thank you, Princess Estelle Cultural Foundation.

I don’t think anyone could have imagined how appropriate the “Turbulence” series would be for a 2020 exhibition, but I commend the Foundation for its foresight.  During these uncertain times, it is hard not to think about powerful forces of nature, but Ms. Aycock’s striking sculptures also make me think of human genius, our mind’s ability to comprehend, temper, and transform even the most fearsome forces on earth.  They give us hope and inspiration.

With unparalleled brainpower across the world focused at the same time on addressing the current pandemic and its consequences, we are seeing the development of innovative technology and creative solutions with unprecedented speed.  No country has invested more in this effort than the United States – more than $20 billion at last count.  Sweden too is drawing on its world-class technology and entrepreneurial tradition to make a difference.  Ultimately, I do believe we will come out on the other side stronger, smarter, and safer, especially when friends such as the United States and Sweden work together.

I want to express my gratitude to you all for coming today.  For anyone who has not had a chance yet to visit the “Turbulence” sculptures around Royal Djurgården, I hope you will find the time to experience them this month.  Thank you very much.

And it is now my distinct honor and privilege to turn the podium over to Crown Princess Victoria.

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And now it is my pleasure to introduce the Executive Director of the Princess Estelle Cultural Foundation, Sara Sandström.

Crown Princess Victoria, Prince Daniel, Sara Sandström, thank you.

And finally, now it is my pleasure to introduce the artist herself, Ms. Aycock, who is dialing in from New York.  Ms. Aycock, over to you.

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Thank you, Ms. Aycock, for allowing your amazing works to be shown here in Sweden, making this beautiful country even more scenic, if that is possible, for a few months.  We would have loved to have met you in person, had events not conspired against that, but I am so grateful you took the time to join us today, even for a short while.   Thanks again, everyone, for joining us today.  Please enjoy some refreshments and the garden.