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MacArthur Foundation Announces 2010 Class of Genius Grant Winners

Type designer Matthew Carter. Photo Courtesy the MacArthur Foundation

2010 MacArthur Fellow Matthew Carter. Photo Courtesy the MacArthur Foundation.

A jazz pianist, an installation artist and a third-generation stone carver are among the recipients of the 2010 MacArthur Foundation Fellowship grants, announced early Tuesday morning. (The full list of recipients can be found here.)

We’ve already talked to two of the esteemed winners, and we’ll have conversations with many more of these artists, writers and musicians in the weeks to come, including an interview with fiction writer Yiyun Li later this afternoon.

After the jump, get a rundown of the diverse group of creative “geniuses” honored this year.

Nicholas Benson is a third-generation stone carver based at the John Stevens Shop in Newport, R.I., a family-owned studio where he began learning the craft under his father at the age of 15. Benson’s letter designs, which are handcut by traditional methods rather than by machine, adorn the National Gallery of Art, the Yale University Library and the future national memorial to Martin Luther King in Washington, D.C. (Click images to enlarge.)


Matthew Carter is a prolific type designer who has created more than 60 typeface families and over 250 fonts. While utilizing traditional craftsmanship, he has recently concentrated on creating attractive and legible typefaces for computers.

David Cromer. Photo Courtesy the MacArthur Foundation

David Cromer is a theater director and actor who has put a fresh, contemporary mark on several classic American plays. His off-Broadway production of “Our Town,” in which he also acted, won an Obie award. Cromer is now slated to direct a Broadway production of Tennessee William’s “Sweet Bird of Youth,” starring Nicole Kidman.

Annette Gordon-Reed is a lawyer and a scholar who helped detangle the complicated family history of Thomas Jefferson and his long, relationship with his slave and lover Sally Hemings. The PBS NewsHour talked to Gordon-Reed in late 2009 after she won a National Book Award for her 2008 book, “The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family”:

Jason Moran is a jazz pianist and composer whose work crosses genres and combines disciplines. Leader of an ensemble called The Bandwagon, Moran has made melodies out of human speech, collaborated with visual artists in multimedia performances and honored jazz gods like Thelonious Monk.

WNYC has this interview with Moran from 2009:

Jorge Pardo. Photo Courtesy the MacArthur Foundation

Jorge Pardo is a California-based artist who moves back and forth between painting, sculpture and architecture to create a range of work from large-scale outdoor installations to artistic and functional furniture pieces. A recent show of his work at the Gagosian Gallery in Beverly Hills addressed cultural assimilation through paintings and colorful room-like installations.

Sebastian Ruth is a musician who founded and operates the non-profit music education organization Community MusicWorks in Providence, R.I., which offers underprivileged children an opportunity for significant mentoring and growth through the study of classical music.

David Simon is a writer and producer who channeled his experience as a journalist into creating critically acclaimed television dramas like “Homicide: Life on the Streets,” “The Wire” and “Treme.”

Jeffrey Brown profiled Simon during the final season of his groundbreaking drama, “The Wire.”

Art Beat caught up with Simon last year at a congressional hearing about the future of journalism, where we also asked him about the then-upcoming New Orleans drama series “Treme.”

Elizabeth Turk is a sculptor who can turn marble into delicate lace and satin. In a series called “The Collars,” she applied her alchemical approach to the medium to deliver sculptures inspired by Elizabethan fashion.

Yiyun Li. Photo Courtesy the MacArthur FoundationYiyun Li came to the United States from China to study immunology in 1996, but arrived at the University of Iowa and took up fiction writing in English instead. Recently featured in the New Yorker’s 20 Under 40 issue, she is a professor at the University of California, Davis and the author of a new collection of short stories, “Gold Boy, Emerald Girl.”


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