cardy uggs Two Chicagoans among this year MacArthur grant winners
Given by the Chicago based John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the fellowships enable recipients to pursue projects that otherwise may have been economically beyond their reach. No one may apply for a MacArthur Fellowship; the candidates are screened and selected without their knowledge.
Some of this year’s recipients reflect social issues of our time: Jason De Leon documents the human toll of migrants from Mexico trying to reach the United States; Cristina Jimenez Moreta organizes young immigrants affected by Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).
Njideka Akunyili Crosby, 34, Los Angeles. The Nigerian born artist brings multiple media into her works, which often combine paint, fabric and photography. Her subject matter spans her African roots and her life in America, the artist intertwining images of past and present, the personal and the public.
Sunil Amrith, 38, Cambridge, Mass. Historian Amrith, a professor at Harvard University, digs deeply into the currents of migration across South and Southeast Asia through the centuries. He shows how environmental events and climate change affect migration and commerce across the Bay of Bengal.
Greg Asbed, 54, Immokalee, Fla. A strategist for human rights and co founder of Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), Asbed has developed systems for bettering the working conditions of laborers. His methods are being adopted by various industries to protect workers from abuses and to improve their wages.
Annie Baker, 36, New York. Playwright Baker addresses nuances of language and often employs a generous use of silence to explore the interior lives of her characters and the ways in which they interrelate. Plays such as “Circle Mirror Transformation” and “The Aliens” enable characters to express meanings that words alone can’t convey.
Regina Barzilay, 46, Cambridge, Mass. A computational linguist and a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Barzilay designs models that enable computers to process vast amounts of data and draw deductions accordingly. These techniques can decipher long lost languages or bring insights to oncology, yielding information otherwise beyond reach. A photographer and professor at Columbia College Chicago, Bey documents the lives of otherwise overlooked Americans. In some of his work, he invites his subjects to provide accompanying texts about themselves, thereby enriching his portraiture.
Emmanuel Candes, 47, Stanford, Calif. The mathematician/statistician, a professor at Stanford University, has excelled at “compressed sensing,” a way of deducing data from small, random bits of information. These techniques make it possible to shorten the amount of a time a patient must be motionless during an MRI scan, to reconstruct old musical recordings and otherwise extrapolate missing data.
Jason De Leon, 40, Ann Arbor, Mich. An anthropologist who teaches at the University of Michigan, De Leon documents the toll of migrants who risk their lives to cross from Mexico into the United States. Folk, country, jazz, bluegrass,
gospel and other genres figure into her solo albums, while her work co founding the Carolina Chocolate Drops celebrates vintage, African American string band music.
Nikole Hannah Jones, 41, New York. An investigative journalist who confronts issues of race, Hannah Jones intertwines deep seated research with human scaled storytelling. Jimenez came to the United States from Ecuador at age 13 as an immigrant without legal documentation and has become a champion of young immigrants. As co founder and executive director of United We Dream (UWD), she has been a focal point in organizing vulnerable immigrants affected by Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).
Taylor Mac, 44, New York. An actor, singer, director and performance artist, Mac embraces a broad swath of idioms, including Japanese theater, pop concerts and audience participation events. His performance pieces address everything from the history of popular music to homophobia, racism and sexual conventions.
On a chilly and dreary fall afternoon, the jazz infused sounds of old school hip hop echoed through the parking lot of the Inner City Muslim Action Network, which had been transformed into a farmer’s market. The co founder and executive director of Inner City Muslim Action Network (IMAN), Nashashibi works to bridge race, religion and class in urban neighborhoods. IMAN does so by running a community clinic, creating cultural events encompassing many traditions, and providing a space where individuals can get help on legal, immigration and other matters.
Viet Thanh Nguyen, 46, Los Angeles. His texts look beyond conventional war narratives to examine the human costs of violent conflict.
Kate Orff, 45, New York. As a landscape architect, Orff has designed projects dealing with climate change and urbanization. Whether taking on the effects of Superstorm Sandy or writing about the consequences of chemical production along the Mississippi River, Orff has argued for safeguarding our natural habitat.
Trevor Paglen, 43, Berlin. A conceptual artist and geographer, Paglen uses high powered telescopes and rigorous examination of public records to illuminate hidden military bases and secret prisons. His work reveals systems that collect data and surveillance on individuals.
Derek Peterson, 46, Ann Arbor, Mich. Historian Peterson, a professor at the University of Michigan, uses his fluency in Gikuyu and Swahili languages to deepen our understanding of how Africans experienced colonialism. His research into diaries, religious publications, oral histories, correspondence and other primary sources sheds light on the rise of independence movements in East Africa.
Stefan Savage, 48, La Jolla, Calif. Computer scientist Savage a professor at the University of California, San Diego has been at the forefront of finding means to fight cybercrime, malware and other digital challenges. He has formulated methods to protect computer networks and to disrupt illicit online activities.