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Three African Americans Among 2013 MacArthur Foundation Award Winners

Three African Americans Among 2013 MacArthur Foundation Award Winners
MBL Editors

MacArthur “Genuis” Award Winners of 2013

By Eva Keane

The MacArthur Foundation is one of the most prestigious and well known philanthropic organizations in the world.

Its envious Fellowship award has been given out since 1981. The initial ward was $5000,000 which has been adjusted for inflation to $625,000. The award is said to be given not to honor past work but rather to encourage un-encumbered future work.

The fellows are described as follows:

“They are artists, social innovators, scientists and humanists who are working to improve the human condition and to preserve and sustain our natural and cultural heritage,” Cecilia Conrad, Vice President of the fellows program, said in a statement.

“Their stories should inspire each of us to consider our own potential to contribute our talents for the betterment of humankind.”

The fellowships have been awarded to well-known figures, but also to obscure figures often moved to tears by the sudden fortune.

Read More about the Foundation below:

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation supports creative people and effective institutions committed to building a more just, verdant, and peaceful world. In addition to selecting the MacArthur Fellows, the Foundation works to defend human rights, advance global conservation and security, make cities better places, and understand how technology is affecting children and society.

Carrie Mae Weems

Photographer and Video Artist

Syracuse, NY

Age: 60

Carrie Mae Weems is a photographer and video installation artist examining the complex and contradictory legacy of African American identity, class, and culture in the United States. Her intimate depictions of children, adults, and families in simple settings document and interpret the ongoing and centuries-old struggle for racial equality, human rights, and social inclusion in America.

In images that are lyrical and evocative, Weems unites critical social insight with enduring aesthetic mastery. Her signature works over three decades—Ain’t Joking (1987), The Kitchen Table Series (1990), From Here I Saw What Happened and I Cried (1995), The Louisiana Project (2004), Roaming (2006)—juxtapose the harsh realities of race, class, and gender discrimination with the dignity and resilience of the human character in everyday life. She enriches the traditional black-and-white cinéma vérité style with African American folklore, multimedia collage, and experimental printing methods, and in many of her prints, she casts herself as silent witness and guiding avatar through “fictional documentaries” in contemporary surroundings or historical recreations. Resurrecting lives and legacies invisible in plain sight, familiar but unseen, Weems creates a poignant and revealing visual archive of the human condition.

Kyle Abraham

Choreographer and Dancer

Founder and Artistic Director

Kyle Abraham/

New York, NY

Age: 36

Kyle Abraham is a choreographer and dancer probing the relationship between identity and personal history through a unique hybrid of traditional and vernacular dance styles that speaks to a new generation of dancers and audiences. With diverse training in music, visual art, and dance—and breathtaking skill as a performer—Abraham’s highly physical dance vocabulary reflects the youthful energy of the hip-hop and urban dance he encountered in his adolescence as well as a strong grounding in modern dance technique.

In works for his own company, Kyle Abraham/, and others, startling shifts in gestures and music create a rich dialogue between internal emotional landscapes and shared cultural experiences.

Tarell McCraney


Ensemble Member

Steppenwolf Theatre Company

Chicago, IL

Age: 32

Tarell Alvin McCraney is a playwright exploring the rich diversity of the African American experience in works that imbue the lives of ordinary people with epic significance. Complementing his poetic, intimate language with a musical sensibility and rhythmic, often ritualistic movement, McCraney transforms intentionally minimalist stages into worlds marked by metaphor and imagery.

His most well-known works, a triptych collectively titled The Brother/Sister Plays (2009), weave West African Yoruban cosmology into modern-day stories of familial self-sacrifice, unrequited love, and coming of age.

The MacArthur Foundation