The Most Genius Geniuses

The Most Genius Geniuses

Well, I guess that's just my opinion but...

The list of the MacArthur "Genius" Awards was just released.  And I've got opinions.  But, first, what is this award anyway?  It's a grant given to a handful of artists, historians, thinkers, and activists by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation every year.  Here's the gist:

Each of the recipients has been selected for having “shown extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction” — and each will receive a $625,000 award from the foundation “as an investment in their potential,” paid out over five years with no strings attached.
— NPR, Here Are The 2017 MacArthur 'Genius' Grant Winners

This year, they picked some GOOD ones, 24 to be exact (full list here).  I wanted to share 4 of my faves, some of whom you already KNOW about if you've been following Stay Cool, Mom.  

Ok, In no particular order...

DAWOUD BEY, aka "the original Bey"

 Dawoud Bey, genius

Dawoud Bey, genius

Photographer, teacher, Chicago guy, artist behind one of my favorite projects, "Class Pictures" (I blogged about them here)

 from "Class Pictures"

from "Class Pictures"

GOALS: "Finding a way to bring the human community into a conversation with itself." (from Chicago Tribune video interview)

 from "Class Pictures"

from "Class Pictures"

 Me and James in front of Dawoud Bey's  Obama  at the MOCP in Chicago, genius!

Me and James in front of Dawoud Bey's Obama at the MOCP in Chicago, genius!

Watch this Chicago Tribune video to learn more about him.

RAMI NASHASHIBI

Another Chicago guy, activist, founder of Inner-City Muslim Action Network.

GOALS: Bringing healthy food to low-income communities, providing job training and housing accessibility for individuals returning to the city from prison,  the list goes on.

 Rami Nashashibi, genius

Rami Nashashibi, genius

Here's President Obama (yes, more him, total genius BTW) talking about Nashashibi at his final National Prayer Breakfast.  (It doesn't describe his work that much, but... it's a good story).

He's done impossible work for people in underserved communities in the city.  Interested in getting involved?  Follow IMAN on Twitter here.  And watch another Chicago Tribune video to learn more about Nashashibi.

NJIDEKA AKUNYILI CROSBY

 Njideka Akunyili Crosby, genius

Njideka Akunyili Crosby, genius

Painter and multi-media artist whose works highlight issues surrounding immigration and globalization (I blogged a little about her here)

 Genius!

Genius!

 Genius!

Genius!

Her multi-media work incorporates photo transfer, various printmaking techniques, Much of her collaged imagery comes from Nigerian magazines or photos she's taken in Nigeria, her birthplace.

GOALS: Challenging stereotypes of what it means to be African, sharing scenes from everyday life in Nigeria, generating dialogue about immigration and globalization.

 Genius!

Genius!

See more of her beautiful work on her website.

JESMYN WARD

Author, most recent works include Salvage the Bones (2011), and Sing, Unburied, Sing (2017), (I blogged about her here and here).  

 Jesmyn Ward, genius

Jesmyn Ward, genius

GOALS:  Sharing the landscape and culture of her home state of Mississippi, exposing how the South's racist history affects the present, more in this Seth Meyer's interview...

She just edited a collection of writing called The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks about Race.  It's an homage to James Baldwin and features writings by Edwidge Danticat, Claudia Rankine, and other greats.  Gotta snag it.

Also, this NPR piece on her is great.   

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I'm so happy for these geniuses. 

P.S.  Don't you think they've worked hard enough already?  I hope one of them blows the $625, 000 on something awesome, like the crazy secret Wu-Tang album, Once Upon a Time in Shaolin, or an average-sized home in Chicago.

Oh, by the way, the Nobel Prizes were awarded this week too.  In case you're not sick of smart people yet, here's the link to the winners.

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Cover photo is of my husband and son looking at a photo by Dawoud Bey at the Museum of Contemporary, in Chicago.

Work Capsule: Check-in!

Work Capsule: Check-in!

WCR:  Surprise Solo Time with October Vogue.

WCR: Surprise Solo Time with October Vogue.