María Magdalena Campos-Pons and Raven Chacon Are Among the Artists Who Won the 2023 MacArthur ‘Genius’ Grants

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Among the 20 winners of this year’s MacArthur “genius” fellowships, each receiving an $800,000 grant over the course of five years, are four artists: María Magdalena Campos-Pons, Raven Chacon, Carolyn Lazard, and Dyani White Hawk.

Even before the announcement of this prestigious honor—recipients don’t apply, but are anonymously nominated by their peers, and only find out they were under consideration once they win—the quartet already boasted an impressive list of accolades.

In 2022, Chacon won the Pulitzer Prize for music, the first Native American so honored. Working with themes of the violent colonial history of the United States, the Diné-American composer and artist creates experimental music, performances, and sound installations, as well as drawings and video work. His work was included in “Quiet as Its Kept,” the 2022 Whitney Biennial in New York.

White Hawk, who is also an Indigenous artist, of Lakota descent, was featured in last year’s Whitney Biennial as well. There, Artnet News national art critic Ben Davis called her “beautifully beaded shimmering geometry” a standout work in the show that “is intimately engaged with Lakota craft traditions but also explicitly presented as a reminder of how the heavies of mid-century Abstract Expressionism took inspiration from Native American art.”

Raven Chacon. Photo courtesy of the MacArthur Foundation.

Raven Chacon. Photo courtesy of the MacArthur Foundation.

In receiving the award, White Hawk acknowledged the many people who have helped her in her career, including assisting with the labor-intensive beadwork on monumental pieces that look like large-scale murals. “I just feel like it’s generations worth of sacrifice, love, prayer and work,” she told the . “And I’m grateful for it all.”

Currently, both Chacon and White Hawk have work in “Indian Theater: Native Performance, Art, and Self-Determination Since 1969,” on view at the Hessel Museum of Art at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York, through November 26, 2023.

Lazard, meanwhile, whose work ranges from installation to sculpture to drawing, among other media, could be spotted at the 2022 Venice Biennale’s international exhibition, “The Milk of Dreams.” One of her works from the show, (2018), a video in which a set of hands fills a weekly medicine organizer with pills, is now in the collection of New York’s Museum of Modern Art.

Campos-Pons, whose first major New York solo exhibition, “Behold,” opened last month at the Brooklyn Museum, is a feminist artist drawing on Afro-Caribbean religion and culture in response not only to her own family origins, but of the global history of colonialism. Working in large format Polaroid as wells a performance, sculpture, and painting, the Cuban native also a veteran of major group shows such as Documenta 14 and the Sharjah Biennial.

“When I left the town of La Vega [Cuba] to go to art school [as a young girl], I was wearing pants and a top that my mother made me using the fabric from a used mattress cover. All I had was my luggage and a little piece of brown paper that had the address of where I was going. And I knew that I never was going to return to the town until I had a lot of good news to share. So now I am going back to La Vega—as a MacArthur Genius,” Campos-Pons told NPR.

María Magdalena Campos-Pons. Photo courtesy of the MacArthur Foundation.

María Magdalena Campos-Pons. Photo courtesy of the MacArthur Foundation.

“Behold” is set to travel to the Nasher Museum of Art in Durham, North Carolina, and the Frist Art Museum in Nashville, and features loans from institutions including MoMA; the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C.; the Detroit Institute of Arts; and the Speed Art Museum in Louisville, Kentucky.

The four new genius grant recipients join a long line of artists recognized by the MacArthur Foundation, including Paul Chan and Tavares Strachan in 2022 and Jordan Casteel and Daniel Lind-Ramos in 2021.

 

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