News Register for our weekly news digest here.

A selection of the MacArthur winners. Photo: John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.
A selection of the MacArthur winners. Photo: John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

Jordan Casteel, Nicole Fleetwood, and Daniel Lind Ramos Win MacArthur Fellowships

Painter Jordan Casteel, art historian and curator Nicole Fleetwood, and sculptor and painter Daniel Lind-Ramos are among the twenty-five recipients of the 2021 MacArthur Fellowships. Known colloquially as the MacArthur “genius” grants, the fellowships provide beneficiaries with $625,000 each. The money is disbursed over a five-year span and is to be used as the recipient sees fit.

Casteel, who lives and works in New York, is known for her deeply empathetic and engaging portraits of people of color, whom she depicts in everyday surroundings, her subjects and their settings frequently made strange by her use of vivid and unexpected hues. In awarding her the fellowship, the MacArthur Foundation cited her “Visible Man” series of 2013–14, depicting nude Black men, lauding the works for refusing “all-too-common” media characterization of Black males, noting in a statement, “Her intensely personal and emotionally resonant renderings of male nudes highlight her subjects’ vulnerability and affirm their individuality.”

Fleetwood, a professor in the department of media, culture, and communication at New York University, was praised for her groundbreaking 2020 book Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration, and for the accompanying exhibition of the same name, both focusing on artistic production within the US carceral system, and inspired in part by Fleetwood’s visits to imprisoned family members.

Lind-Ramos, who was born in Loíza, Puerto Rico, where he lives and works, is a professor at the University of Puerto Rico, Humacao Campus. The sculptor was laureled for his practice “transforming everyday objects into assemblages that speak to the global connections inherent in Afro-Caribbean and diaspora legacies.” Lind-Ramos typically incorporates organic materials native to Puerto Rico with mass-produced objects to create sculptures that investigate memory, community and belief.

Awarded annually by the Chicago-based John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the fellowships are intended to “encourage people of outstanding talent to pursue their own creative, intellectual, and professional inclinations.” Candidates do not apply but are nominated by peers in their fields, with the result that fellowship winners are frequently surprised to learn that they have been chosen.

A full list of MacArthur Fellows is below.

Hanif Abdurraqib, 38, music critic, essayist and poet

Daniel Alarcón, 44, writer and radio producer

Marcella Alsan, 44, physician-economist

Trevor Bedford, 39, computational virologist

Reginald Dwayne Betts, 40, poet and lawyer

Jordan Casteel, 32, painter

Don Mee Choi, 59, poet and translator

Ibrahim Cissé , 38, cellular biophysicist

Nicole Fleetwood, 48, art historian and curator

Cristina Ibarra, 49, documentary filmmaker

Ibram X. Kendi, 39, American historian and cultural critic

Daniel Lind-Ramos, 68, sculptor and painter

Monica Muñoz Martinez, 37, public historian

Desmond Meade, 54, civil rights activist

Joshua Miele, 52, adaptive technology designer

Michelle Monje, 45, neurologist and neuro-oncologis.

Safiya Noble, 51, digital media scholar

Taylor Perron, 44, geomorphologist

Alex Rivera, 48, filmmaker and media artist

Lisa Schulte Moore, 50, landscape ecologist

Jesse Shapiro, 41, applied microeconomist

Jacqueline Stewart, 51, cinema studies scholar and curator

Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, 49, historian

Victor J. Torres, 44, microbiologist

Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, 70, choreographer and dance entrepreneur