The MacArthur Foundation has announced the twenty-four awardees for its 2017 cycle of fellowships. Each fellow will be given a no-strings-attached cash prize of $625,000, paid out over the course of five years. The winners of the grants come from a range of fields and disciplines, such as art, science, music, journalism, and law. Among the artists receiving this year’s prize are photographer and educator Dawoud Bey, painter Njideka Akunyili Crosby, theater artist Taylor Mac, and artist Trevor Paglen.
Critic Jennifer Krasinski wrote about Taylor Mac in a 2015 Slant piece for artforum.com: “‘My gender is performer,’ a bedazzling Taylor Mac announced to a sold-out audience at New York Live Arts. ‘My pronoun,’ he twinkled, ‘is judy.’ Looking like the love-child of Rosalind Russell and a leopard-print-obsessed Lubavitcher, with eyes lashed like Venus flytraps, Mac launched into a six-hour marathon performance of songs and stories of the 1900s to the 1950s—a preview of sorts of his forthcoming opus, A 24-Decade History of Popular Music. Written by Mac, the show reads music history to double as a chronicle of sex, repression, expression, and community, and ‘to remind people what they’ve dismissed, forgotten, or buried.’”
For Dawoud Bey’s exhibition at the Addison Gallery of American Art, Francine Koslow Miller wrote in the December 2007 issue of Artforum: “Often, seeming inconsistencies between self-image and the camera’s view make for the most compelling work. Gerard, 2003, for example, depicts a pensive young black man sitting bolt upright, crossing his arms in a defensive pose. His simple statement, I AM A HARDWORKING MAN AND I AM BLACK. I HAVE A NICE SMILE AND NICE LONG HAIR is so direct and untroubled that we struggle to align it with the more troubled personality hinted at in the picture. Such revealing or ambiguous intersections of physical nuance and verbal expression mesh with the detailed mapping of facial topography made possible by Bey’s medium-format camera to produce a truly engrossing study.”
Njideka Akunyili Crosby’s recent show at the Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati was covered by Dan Jakubowski in a Critics’ Pick for artforum.com, where he noted that her “paintings exhibit both a generous opulence and a tender grace, taking small moments of intimacy and imbuing them with a meticulously ordered magnificence.”
The full list of 2017 MacArthur fellows is available here.