THREE VISUAL ARTISTS, all women of color, are among the 2023 MacArthur Foundation fellows. Interdisciplinary artist María Magdalena Campos-Pons brought a mix of heritages and cultures when she emigrated to the United States three decades ago. “I was born in Cuba, but I also feel that I belong to many other places,” said Campos-Pons. In Philadelphia, Carolyn Lazard works across a variety of mediums considering the relationship between care, labor, and value. Describing her work, multidisciplinary artist Dyani White Hawk said she draws from “the history of both Lakota abstraction and Euro and Euro-American easel painting abstraction.”

The MacArthur Foundation announced 20 new fellows this morning, whose talents span the arts, sciences, and law. Fellows are recognized for exceptional creativity and outstanding contributions to their fields.


2023 MacArthur Foundation Fellow María Magdalena Campos-Pons. | Photo: John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation


“The 2023 MacArthur Fellows are applying individual creativity with global perspective, centering connections across generations and communities. They forge stunning forms of artistic expression from ancestral and regional traditions, heighten our attention to the natural world, improve how we process massive flows of information for the common good, and deepen understanding of systems shaping our environment,” MacArthur Fellows Director Marlies Carruth said in a statement.

Each fellow receives a $800,000 no-strings-attached award, provided quarterly over five years. The opportunity is designed to give them the freedom to shape the direction of their individual work, whether that means advancing their knowledge, embarking on a new project, or something else entirely.

IN ADDITION TO Campos-Pon, Lazard, and White Hawk, the 2023 fellows include Raven Chacon, a composer who works at the intersection of music and visual art; E. Tendayi Achiume, a legal scholar who deals with international law in terms of racial justice and global migration; Andrea Armstrong, who sheds light on incarceration conditions and policies and deaths in U.S. prisons and jails; composer and pianist Courtney Bryan; computer scientist and statistician Lester Mackey; and Imani Perry, a scholar and writer.

The foundation said Perry’s work gives “fresh context to history and the cultural expressions forged by Black Americans in the face of injustice.” Perry is the author of several titles. Works by Lorna Simpson and Lezley Saar have illustrated the covers of her books. “Cotton to Hair” (2009) by Sonya Clark graces the cover of “South to America: A Journey Below the Mason-Dixon to Understand the Soul of a Nation,” which won a 2022 National Book Award for nonfiction.

Currently, Perry is a professor of Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality and of African and African American Studies at Harvard University. She previously, taught at Rutgers and Princeton universities. In 2021, Perry sold “Welfare Queen” (2012), a multi-million dollar painting by Amy Sherald at Phillips New York. At the time of the auction, she said it was “the first significant piece of art I ever owned.”


Deleted: “CRIP TIME” by Carolyn Lazard (HD video, sound, color, 10 minutes). © Carolyn Lazard. | Video by Carolyn Lazard


LAZARD’S CONCEPTUAL PRACTICE centers accessibility. The artist works across video, installation, sculpture, and performance, drawing on personal experience with chronic illness. “CRIP TIME,” a video by the artist is currently on view in the collection galleries at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. The museum acquired the work in 2020. Greater New York 2021, the survey of New York City area artists at MoMA PS1, also featured Lazard’s work.

“I’m interested in the history of disablement, disability, and how we might think through certain kinds of relations of care and dependence and collectivity,” Lazard said in a MacArthur Fellow video. “I think a lot about what kinds of cognitive, perceptual, or physical abilities are assumed of artists and are also what kinds of abilities are assumed of people who walk into museums.”

“I try to use all of them to tell a very particular story, the viewpoints of a woman who was born in the Caribbean, from a very particular strong heritage and how she interpreted not only the history of the past, but fundamental scenes of our time and a vision of the future.”
— María Magdalena Campos-Pons

CAMPOS-PONS MAKES POETIC, layered work that explores how memory, identity, and displacement are connected to individual and collective histories. “I want to present the complexity of dualities, knowledge, history, heritage, culture, and a play for justice,” the Cuban American artist said in a MacArthur Fellow video. “I have a heritage in Africa, Nigeria, I have heritage in China, Canton, in España. Cuba is a place of a lot of a melding cultures, a melding of ancestral lineage. All of that, I brought it with me when I come to America, because I found that America, too, is a place of melding identities.”

She continued: “I touch many media, and I touch many methodologies, painting, photography, video, performance, sculpture, and sometimes, all of them together. And I try to use all of them to tell a very particular story, the viewpoints of a woman who was born in the Caribbean, from a very particular strong heritage and how she interpreted not only the history of the past, but fundamental scenes of our time and a vision of the future.”

An artist and educator in Nashville, Tenn., Campos-Pons serves as the Cornelius Vanderbilt Endowed Chair and professor of fine arts at Vanderbilt University, where she founded the Engine for Art, Democracy & Justice Program. A major survey of the artist recently opened at the Brooklyn Museum in New York and is on view through Jan. 14, 2024. “María Magdalena Campos-Pons: Behold” presents four decades of work across photography, immersive installation, painting, and performance. The exhibition travels next to the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University in Durham, N.C., Frist Art Museum in the artist’s current hometown, and the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles. CT


VIEW FULL LIST of 2023 MacArthur Fellows


2023 MacArthur Foundation Fellow María Magdalena Campos-Pons explains the scope of her artistic practice and the meaning of her work. | Video by McArthur Foundation


READ MORE about María Magdalena Campos-Pons in a recent New York Times profile and on Culture Type


FIND MORE about Carolyn Lazard on the artist’s website and Instagram

READ MORE about Carolyn Lazard’s work in interviews published by MoMA’s online magazine and BOMB magazine


FIND MORE about Dyani White Hawk on her website and Instagram


2020 MacArthur Foundation Fellow Dyani White Hawk: “Abstraction is a global practice that has been practiced in communities for longer than I think we understand. It’s certainly a practice that has been practiced on this continent, pre-colonization by my ancestors.” White Hawk’s work is grounded in painting, beadwork, and porcupine quillwork. She also expresses herself through video and photo installations. | Video by MacArthur Foundation


“María Magdalena Campos-Pons: Behold” accompanies a major traveling survey of the artist, current on view at the Brooklyn Museum. “Dyani White Hawk: Speaking to Relatives” documents a recent exhibition at the Kemper Museum of Art in Kansas City, Mo. Imani Perry has published multiple books. “South to America: A Journey Below the Mason-Dixon to Understand the Soul of a Nation” won a 2022 National Book Award for nonfiction. She is also the author of “Looking for Lorraine: The Radiant and Radical Life of Lorraine Hansberry” and editor of “Sing a Black Girl’s Song: The Unpublished Work of Ntozake Shange,” which was published in September. Perry also contributed to “Omar Victor Diop,” a recent publication dedicated to the Senegalese artist who focuses on portrait photography.


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