MacArthur Foundation Announces $625K ‘Genius Grant’ Recipients

Emmanuel Pratt
This August 30, 2019 photo shows MacArthur Foundation fellow Emmanuel Pratt, an urban designer with the Sweet Water Foundation in Chicago. John D., Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation via AP
Emmanuel Pratt
This August 30, 2019 photo shows MacArthur Foundation fellow Emmanuel Pratt, an urban designer with the Sweet Water Foundation in Chicago. John D., Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation via AP

MacArthur Foundation Announces $625K ‘Genius Grant’ Recipients

WBEZ brings you fact-based news and information. Sign up for our newsletters to stay up to date on the stories that matter.

Chicago-based urban designer Emmanuel Pratt and former Chicagoan and cartoonist Lynda Barry are among the recipients of 2019 MacArthur Foundation “genius grants.”

The foundation, based in Chicago, announced the 26 winners Wednesday. This year’s fellows will each receive $625,000 over five years.

Pratt is co-founder and executive director of the Sweet Water Foundation, a nonprofit group based on the South Side that does projects such as repurposing abandoned buildings and vacant lots into sites of urban agriculture. His work has included transforming a former shoe warehouse into an urban farm focused on aquaponics.

Lynda Barry is best known as the creator of Ernie Pook’s Comeek, a cartoon that has been syndicated in alternative weeklies in North America. She is currently a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Every year since 1981, the MacArthur Foundation has lauded people who have shown exceptional creativity, made significant accomplishments and have the potential for future creativity. Potential fellows are brought to the foundation’s attention by an anonymous pool of nominators.

Here are the other recipients this year, and a brief description of their work from MacArthur:

  • Elizabeth Anderson, a University of Michigan philosopher “examining how evolving concepts of freedom and equality are experienced in our daily lives.”

  • Sujatha Baliga, an Oakland, California, attorney who works on “restorative justice alternatives to traditional legal interventions.”

  • Mel Chin, an Egypt, North Carolina, artist who uses collages, sculpture, animated films and other mediums to call “attention to complex social and environmental issues.”

  • Danielle Citron, of Boston, a legal scholar “addressing the scourge of cyber harassment by raising awareness of the toll it takes on victims and proposing reforms.”

  • Lisa Daugaard, of Seattle, a criminal justice reformer “developing an alternative to standard drug law enforcement.”

  • Annie Dorsen, of Brooklyn, New York, a theater director and writer “producing works that dramatize the complex interface between machines and humans.”

  • Andrea Dutton, a UW-Madison geochemist and paleoclimatologist studying “sea levels and ice sheet changes during earlier periods of global warming on Earth.”

  • Jeffrey Gibson, an artist at at Bard College who merges “traditional Native American materials and forms with those of Western contemporary art to create a new hybrid visual vocabulary.”

  • Mary Halvorson, of New York, a guitarist, ensemble leader and composer.

  • Saidiya Hartman, of New York, a scholar of African American literature and cultural history.

  • Walter Hood, of Oakland, a landscape and public artist “creating urban spaces that resonate with and enrich the lives of current residents.”

  • Stacy Jupiter is a marine scientist with the Wildlife Conservation Society based in Fiji.

  • Zachary Lippman, of Cold Spring Harbor, New York, a plant biologist “investigating the genetic networks underpinning plant development and growth and creating new breeds of hardier, higher yielding crops.”

  • Valeria Luiselli, of Annandale-on-Hudson, New York, a writer of fiction and essays.

  • Kelly Lytle Hernández, a historian at UCLA.

  • Sarah Michelson, of New York, a choreographer “expanding the scope of contemporary dance.”

  • Jeffrey Alan Miller is a scholar of early modern English literature and theology at Montclair State University in New Jersey.

  • Jerry X. Mitrovica is a Harvard University geophysicist studying “the dynamics of Earth’s crust and mantle in response to glacial melting and the resulting implications for sea level rise.”

  • Vanessa Ruta, a neuroscientist at The Rockefeller University in New York.

  • Joshua Tenenbaum, a cognitive scientist at MIT.

  • Jenny Tung, an evolutionary anthropologist at Duke University.

  • Ocean Vuong is a poet and fiction writer at the University of Massachusetts- Amherst.

  • Emily Wilson, a classicist and literary scholar at the University of Pennsylvania.

Mark LeBien is the digital news editor at WBEZ. Follow him on Twitter @marklebien.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

The MacArthur Foundation provides funding to WBEZ.