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Wouldn't It Be Nice...
September 27, 2006

Cut by Kara Walker

Former MacArthur recipient and Lucelia Award winner: Kara Walker, Cut, 1988, Cut paper and adhesive on wall, Courtesy Brent Sikkema NYC

. . . to be recognized via secret nomination as a genius and rewarded $100,000 per year for the next five years—money to do with as your genius mind pleases? Those of us who will spend yet another year toiling in obscurity, waiting for our shot, may gaze in admiration upon the winners of this year's MacArthur Awards.

The MacArthur Foundation recognized three visual artists with fellowships, commonly called "genius awards:" sculptor Josiah McElheny, installation artist Anna Schuleit, and miniaturist and painter Shahzia Sikander. To a one, the e-mails I received about the selection all noted that two of the three grantees are women. That isn't what surprises me—the Foundation has in the past recognized, fairly equally, the artistic achievements of men and women.

What I find interesting is that the Foundation doesn't hold to a distinction between so-called established and emerging artists. Instead of choosing to honor artists who have produced a career's worth of meritable work—or, on the other hand, scouting the best new young talent working in America—the MacArthur Foundation seeks both. Among the pantheon of artist Fellows are Cindy Sherman and James Turrell, but also Kara Walker and Julie Mehretu. (Kara Walker, incidentally, was the 2004 Lucelia Award Winner as well.) A selection of recent awardees includes artists who are gearing up for their retrospectives alongside artists who just broke out with their first post-MFA gallery shows.

Posted by Kriston on September 27, 2006 in American Art Everywhere


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