The MacArthur Foundation announced its 2016 MacArthur Fellows Thursday and four African Americans with a diverse skillset are among the 23 people named to the fellowship and who will receive $625,000 “genius grants” for their work, which is judged by the organization to be changing the landscape of their respective fields and advancing our understanding of the world.
“While our communities, our nation, and our world face both historic and emerging challenges, these 23 extraordinary individuals give us ample reason for hope. They are breaking new ground in areas of public concern, in the arts, and in the sciences, often in unexpected ways. Their creativity, dedication, and impact inspire us all,” said MacArthur President, Julia Stasch. Meet them below.
A poet from New Haven Connecticut, Claudia’s book Citizen, focuses on the emotional and psychic toll of the everyday racism encountered by African Americans and has become part of the national conversation around race and policing.
The New York playwright has examined race and class issues in stage plays that are described as “risky,” and “unconventional.” His plays include An Octoroon, Neighbors, Appropriate, in which siblings discover their father’s association with the Ku Klux Klan. His new play Everybody will premiere at the Signature Theatre in January 2017.
A New York based art historian and curator bringing the work of critically important, but under-recognized, black artists into the canons of modern and contemporary art. Her work also shifts our understanding of the history of Black activism through demonstrating the role of art and performance in the Civil Rights Movement.
A Baltimore-based jewelry maker, her work focuses on social injustices and depicts the violence that comes from racism and sexism, including rape, lynching, and domestic violence. Her jewelry is more than an accessory; it causes the viewer, and the wearer, to become part of the narrative and commentary on racial stereotypes and violence embedded in the piece.