Saturday, June 14, 2008

In the eye of the beholder

If you got to nominate somebody for a MacArthur Fellowship (the genius grant), who would it be?

Aside from me, my wife, and my friends?

The MacArthur Fellows Program awards unrestricted fellowships to talented individuals who have shown extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction. There are three criteria for selection of Fellows: exceptional creativity, promise for important future advances based on a track record of significant accomplishment, and potential for the fellowship to facilitate subsequent creative work.

The MacArthur Fellows Program is intended to encourage people of outstanding talent to pursue their own creative, intellectual, and professional inclinations. In keeping with this purpose, the Foundation awards fellowships directly to individuals rather than through institutions. Recipients may be writers, scientists, artists, social scientists, humanists, teachers, entrepreneurs, or those in other fields, with or without institutional affiliations. They may use their fellowship to advance their expertise, engage in bold new work, or, if they wish, to change fields or alter the direction of their careers.
Victor Gaultney, type designer at SIL and the designer of Gentium. His work is thorough and brilliant, both in producing fonts and in writing about their design and history, and I’d love to see what he will do next.

Kirk Hawkins, if he successfully brings the ICON light sport aircraft to the market. We’ll know in 3 years.

Matt Ruff
, author of two of the best books I’ve read (Fool on the Hill and Set This House in Order).

Jeffrey Summit, who has created a campus Hillel organization at Tufts that inspires and engages an incredible number of people, continually develops new programs that help the community, and serves as a national role model. He’s done this while also teaching, doing an advanced degree and research in ethnomusicology, and engaging in side projects like putting together a Grammy-nominated album.

I’m a little surprised that I’m having trouble naming artists for this. Lars-Erik Fisk (sculpture), Jan Owen (calligraphy), Shayna Leib (glass), Josiah McElheny (glass). Ok, maybe I’m not having trouble. They’re all producing work that is original, unusual, thought-provoking, and finely executed.

Moses Pendleton, founder, artistic director, and choreographer for Momix. Co-founder of Pilobolus. Though I’m not sure a MacArthur would actually change what he’s doing at this point, because he’s already been so successful.

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