Friday, October 3, 2008
MacArthur grants (a brief history here) are those kind of hazy, far-off dreams that not only cement one’s reputation, but one’s pocketbook as well. And it is always interesting to see who walks away with the prize(s).
This year’s recipients were:
Chimamanda Adichie 31, writer
Will Allen, 59, urban farmer
Regina Benjamin, 51, rural family physician
Kirsten Bomblies, 34, plant evolution geneticist
Tara Donovan, 38, sculptor (work pictured)
Wafaa El-Sadr, 58, infectious disease physician
Andrea Ghez, 43, astrophysicist
Stephen Houston, 49, anthropologist /epigrapher
Mary Jackson, 63, fiber artist (work pictured)
Leila Josefowicz, 30, violinist
Alexei Kitaev, 45, physicist /computer scientist
Walter Kitundu,35, instrument maker and composer
Susan Mango, 47, developmental biologist
Diane Meier, 56, geriatrician
David Montgomery, 46, geomorphologist
John Ochsendorf, 34, structural engineer/architectural preservationist
Peter Pronovost, 43, critical care physician
Adam Riess, 38, astronomer
Alex Ross, 40, music critic
Nancy Siraisi, 76, historian of medicine
Marin Soljacic, 34, optical physicist
Sally Temple, 49, neuroscientist
Jennifer Tipton, 71, stage lighting designer
Rachel Wilson, 34, experimental neurobiologist
Miguel Zenón, 31, saxophonist
I believe that a great part of the appeal for those of us who think about the MacArthur grant is its out-of-the-blueness. Because the process is a secret, reciepients typically aren’t aware that they are even up for selection, until they get the call.
I was particulary interested in the two artists who were selected. I am interested in them because of the materiality of their work.
Mary Jackson is a fiber artist from Charleston, South Carolina, and a decendant of the Gullah community there. She uses traditional sweetgrass weaving methods and materials to create vessels that are both functional, and forward-looking. The resources she uses are renewable, and the artist also leads efforts to protect the threatened wetland habitats of sweetgrass and ensure continued local access to these resources.
Tara Donovan’s work also uses the seemingly commonplace; using everyday, often disposable objects, the artist transforms spaces with geological and biological overtones.
I mention both of these artists because I see sympathy to their thought process and approach in the works of Billie McCray and Mark Creegan. Zeitgeist in the air?