Claudia Rankine, Maggie Nelson and 10 Other Dope Women Just Got a 2016 MacArthur 'Genius' Grant 


The MacArthur Foundation just announced its list of artists, creatives, scientists and musicians whose lives have changed via a phone call and the sweet cash prize of $625,000 distributed over five years. Twelve of the 23 recipients are women and all of them are pretty pretty fucking rad.

Last year’s winners of this very prestigious award include Ta-Nehisi Coates, your boyfriend Lin-Manuel Miranda and Michelle Dorrance, a tap dancer who was also in STOMP. This year, women dominated the list. Let’s take a closer look at a few of these women and appreciate what they’ve done and what they will do for the culture.

Claudia Rankine is a poet and the author of Citizen, a slim volume of lyrical poetry that presents illuminates the various everyday micro and macro-aggressions that black people face in this country on a daily basis. If none of this rings a bell, you may remember her book as the one being read by this hero at a Trump rally last year. She’s fucking great. Go buy her book; read it now!

Here’s Maggie Nelson, critic and author of the beautiful and heartbreaking book The Argonauts. Her work looks at her personal life through a critical lens and is really, really great. Read Maggie Nelson if you haven’t already; start with The Red Parts, move on to Bluets and end with The Argonauts. You’re welcome!!

This is Kellie Jones, an art historian and curator focusing on the contemporary art of the African Diaspora. In 2014, she curated an incredible show at the Brooklyn Museum, Witness: Art and Civil Rights in the Sixties that looked closely at how the art of the era processed and reflected the ongoing struggle for racial justice.

Anne Basting is a theatre artist and educator who works with people with Alzheimer’s, using the power of narrative and storytelling to improve the lives of elderly people living with various cognitive impairments.

Joyce J. Scott is a sculptor who uses beadwork and large-scale sculpture as a means of commenting on larger social, political and racial injustices. Currently, she’s working on a large-scale outdoor installation of a sculpture of Harriet Tubman, which will surely be amazing. I mean, look at this. She’s incredible.

These women are in some pretty incredible company. There’s geo-biologist Victoria Orphan who studies microbial communities in extreme environments; Dianne Newman, a microbiologist concerned with the role bacteria played in shaping the earth; Julia Wolfe, a post-minimalist whose work deconstructs traditional American genres like folk and rock to create compositions rooted in historical narrative (they’re incredible); Rebecca Richards-Kortum, a bioengineer concerned with global health disparities in areas with little resources; Mary Reid Kelly, a video artist exploring women’s lives and the condition of women throughout history; Laurie Redniss, a visual artist and writer who wrote this beautiful book about weather, of all things; and Sarah Stillman, a journalist reporting on stories about social injustices normally invisible to the mainstream, like this bonkers tale about what happens to juveniles who are found guilty of sexual misconduct.

That’s a lot of really incredible women who will now have a bunch of money to continue to do their very important and inspiring work! The full list of newly-minted geniuses is available here.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Share Tweet Submit Pin