Lynda Barry Receives 2019 MacArthur ‘Genius’ Grant

Eisner Hall of Fame cartoonist Lynda Barry is among 26 recipients of this year’s MacArthur Fellowships.

In announcing the selections, MacArthur President John Palfrey said:

From addressing the consequences of climate change to furthering our understanding of human behavior to fusing forms of artistic expression, this year’s 26 extraordinary MacArthur Fellows demonstrate the power of individual creativity to reframe old problems, spur reflection, create new knowledge, and better the world for everyone. They give us reason for hope, and they inspire us all to follow our own creative instincts.

Lynda Barry is best-known for her weekly comic strip Ernie Pook’s Comeek. She has also produced several  illustrated novels including The Good Times are Killing Me (1988), Cruddy (1999), and One! Hundred! Demons! (2002). Her graphic novel What It Is (2008), part memoir, part collage and part workbook, won the 2009 Eisner Award for Best Reality-Based Work.

In recognition of her contributions to the comic art form, Comics Alliance named Barry as one of twelve women cartoonists deserving of lifetime achievement recognition.

Others receiving fellowships are:

Elizabeth AndersonPhilosopher. Employing pragmatist methods to examine the ways that various institutions, policies, and social practices serve to promote or hinder conditions of democratic equality. ++ Ann Arbor, MI

sujatha baligaAttorney and Restorative Justice Practitioner. Expanding access to survivor-centered restorative justice strategies that interrupt the criminalization of people of color and break cycles of recidivism and violence. ++ Oakland, CA

Mel ChinArtist. Harnessing the power of art to raise awareness of social concerns through a practice that defies categorization. ++ Egypt, NC

Danielle CitronLegal Scholar. Addressing the scourge of cyber harassment by raising awareness of the toll it takes on victims and proposing reforms to combat the most extreme forms of online abuse. ++ Boston, MA

Lisa DaugaardCriminal Justice Reformer. Developing alternative approaches to policing and law enforcement practices to improve outcomes for those struggling with substance use disorder and mental illness. ++ Seattle, WA

Annie DorsenTheater Artist. Pioneering a new genre of theater that dramatizes the ways in which nonhuman intelligence is profoundly changing the nature of work, culture, and social relationships. ++ Brooklyn, NY

Andrea DuttonGeochemist and Paleoclimatologist. Furthering current understanding of sea level dynamics by reconstructing the extent and rate of sea level rise in the ancient past. ++ Madison, WI

Jeffrey GibsonVisual Artist. Melding indigenous North American materials and forms with those of Western contemporary art to create a new hybrid visual vocabulary and prompting a shift in how Native American art is perceived and historicized. ++ Annandale-on-Hudson, NY

Mary HalvorsonGuitarist and Composer. Experimenting at the intersection of jazz and rock with a signature sound on her instrument and an aesthetic that evolves and surprises with each new album and configuration of bandmates. ++ New York, NY

Saidiya HartmanLiterary Scholar and Cultural Historian. Tracing the afterlife of slavery in modern American life and rescuing from oblivion stories of sparsely documented lives that have been systematically excluded from historical archives. ++ New York, NY

Walter HoodLandscape and Public Artist. Creating ecologically sustainable urban spaces that resonate with and enrich the lives of current residents while also honoring communal histories. ++ Oakland, CA

Stacy JupiterMarine Scientist. Integrating local cultural practices with field research to design conservation strategies that protect ecosystem biodiversity and the well-being of coastal communities. ++ Suva, Fiji

Zachary LippmanPlant Biologist. Investigating the genetic mechanisms determining flowering and flower production and developing tools for breeding hardier, higher-yielding crops. ++ Cold Spring Harbor, NY

Valeria LuiselliWriter. Challenging conventional notions of authorship in fiction, essays, and inventive hybrids of the two that pose profound questions about the various ways we piece together stories and document the lives of others. ++ Annandale-on-Hudson, NY

Kelly Lytle HernándezHistorian. Challenging long-held beliefs about the origins, ideology, and evolution of incarceration and immigrant detention practices in the United States. ++ Los Angeles, CA

Sarah MichelsonChoreographer. Expanding the scope of contemporary dance in works that extend and subvert classical, modern, and postmodern traditions and make evident the physical realities of dancers’ performance. ++ New York, NY

Jeffrey Alan MillerLiterary Scholar. Shedding light on how the writing practices of Renaissance scholars shaped foundational texts of modern Christianity, philosophy, and literature. ++ Montclair, NJ

Jerry X. MitrovicaTheoretical Geophysicist. Revising our understanding of the dynamics and structure of Earth’s interior and developing models to better predict the geometry and sources of sea level change in the modern world and the geological past. ++ Cambridge, MA

Emmanuel PrattUrban Designer. Integrating agriculture, education, and design in a resident-driven approach to community development and turning neglected urban neighborhoods into places of growth and vitality. ++ Chicago, IL

Cameron RowlandArtist. Using physical objects and contractual relations—such as items seized in civil forfeiture or furniture made by prison labor—to make visible the mechanisms through which systemic racism is perpetuated. ++ Queens, NY

Vanessa RutaNeuroscientist. Investigating how stimuli in the physical world shape the function of neural circuits and are translated into innate and learned behaviors. ++ New York, NY

Joshua TenenbaumCognitive Scientist. Combining computational models with behavioral experiments to shed light on human learning, reasoning, and perception, and exploring how to bring artificial intelligence closer to the capabilities of human thinking. ++ Cambridge, MA

Jenny TungEvolutionary Anthropologist and Geneticist. Revealing links between social environmental factors—such as social status and social integration—and genomic variation and how these connections impact health, well-being, and longevity. ++ Durham, NC

Ocean VuongPoet and Fiction Writer. Marrying folkloric traditions with linguistic experimentation in works that explore the effects of intergenerational trauma, the refugee experience, and the complexities of identity and desire with eloquence and clarity. ++ Amherst, MA

Emily WilsonClassicist and Translator. Bringing classical literature to new audiences in works that convey ancient texts’ relevance to our time and highlight the assumptions about social relations that underlie translation decisions. ++ Philadelphia, PA

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8 thoughts on “Lynda Barry Receives 2019 MacArthur ‘Genius’ Grant

  1. Wow! She’s so great! Now I can stop feeling so guilty about the money I owe her from when I used her work in our newspaper and went broke before I got her paid.

    I still feel guilty, though. I’m not a monster Just not as guilty. 😉

  2. If I recall correctly, Emily Wilson is also of interest to the genre, being the first woman to publish a translation of The Odyssey into English last year. A nice choice.

  3. Congratulations to her! That’s really cool. I remember reading the “Comeek” in the local City Paper back in the day and I have/read one or two of her books, though I’m completely out of touch with what she’s done over the years.

    @Jon Meltzer: “Has Marlys reacted yet?”

    LOL! “My sister is sensitive. I also am sensitive. 🙂 ” Marlys was great.

  4. Lynda Barry lived and worked in Seattle back in the 1970s and 1980s (dates approximate), so Seattle folks feel a certain “ownership” of her. We’re all happy she got this grant, I’m sure. My particular favorite of her work is “Poodle with a Mohawk.”

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