The painter Jordan Casteel, the sculptor Daniel Lind-Ramos and the art historian Nicole Fleetwood were among the winners of the MacArthur Foundation 2021 “Genius” grant, one of the most prestigious art prizes in the world. Each will receive $ 625,000 over a five-year period.
While not limited to the art world, the MacArthur Foundation grants are a sign of the winners’ far-reaching influence in their respective fields. Previous fellows included some of the most renowned contemporary artists, from Rick Lowe to Wu Tsang.
Casteel is best known for her intimate portraits of residents of Harlem, the New York neighborhood she has long called home. By focusing on black and brown sitters, she represents people whose images are not normally seen in art institutions, while infusing her images with heartfelt psychologies. In an interview with the New York Times last year, Harlem Studio Museum director Thelma Golden praised Casteel for her ability to “capture a sense of spirit, self-esteem, and soulfulness”.
Nicole Fleetwood on « Marking Time »
Faith Ringgold & Jordan Casteel Talk about the living history of Harlem and painting amid the protest
In 2020, Casteel was the subject of her largest solo show to date at the New Museum in New York, and the artist portrait of fashion designer Aurora James appeared on the cover of the much-acclaimed September issue of Vogue. Her work will appear in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s Black American Portraits poll in November.
Fleetwood organized the acclaimed MoMA PS1 2020 exhibition, « Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration, » the beginning opened this month at the Abroms-Engel Institute for Visual Arts at the University of Birmingham, Alabama. « Marking Time » is the subject of a book of the same name published by Harvard University Press in the run-up to the exhibition, « Yaya » Hough and Jesse Krimes, as well as non-imprisoned creators such as American Artist and Sable Elyse Smith.
« Marking Time » illuminated next often unseen forms of racism and exploitation as well, as visual arts can act as a kind of protest within the prison system. « It is revolutionary to turn this experience into an experience of aesthetic engagement, creativity and something beyond state management, » Fleetwood told ARTnews in 2020. The New York Times named the show one of the best exhibitions of 2020.
Lind-Ramos makes sculptures from objects found in Loíza, the Puerto Rican city where he lives. The artist once told Garage that the materials he found « let me be inspired by a picture or a memory, they bring me there. » These works often resemble science fiction creatures and relate to Lind-Ramos’ life as a black Puerto Rican as well as the history of Puerto Rico with a view to colonialism and racism.
At the 2019 Whitney Biennale he showed one of the most memorable works, a Sculpture that vaguely resembles the Virgin Mary – a play on words that is also intended to recall the damage caused by Hurricane Maria and the slow reaction of US politicians to it. Last year he received a US $ 50,000 award from the Pérez Art Museum Miami. His work can currently be seen at the Haus der Kunst in Munich.
The winners of this year’s MacArthur winner also included the filmmakers Cristina Ibarra and Alex Rivera; Jacqueline Stewart, film scholar and artistic director of the newly opened Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles; Ibram X. Kendi, whose book How to Be an Antiracist became a bestseller in 2020; and historian Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor.
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