On Wednesday, graphic novelist, cartoonist, and educator Lynda Barry was named a winner of the 2019 MacArthur Genius Grant fellowship. Barry is one of 26 recipients and is joined by a diverse spectrum of thinkers and creators including philosophers, attorneys, geochemists, artists, scholars and more. Per NPR, the award recognizes and supports people in disciplines that aren’t as lucrative as, for example, professional athletes. Winners of the award are granted a $625,000 stipend, which is given out quarterly over five years; it’s a level of stability that helps these outstanding folks continue doing their good work.
Here at The Beat, it’s especially exciting to see Barry as one of those winners. Not only is she an inspirational creator on her own – she’s made a career out of helping ordinary people understand the magic of making their own comics. As an associate professor of Interdisciplinary Creativity at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Barry instructs programs that connect students to their youthful creativity and, in her words, the “misery that graduate students have about being in university.”
Her comics have a similar focus. Barry says they concern the events in characters’ childhoods that shape them into the people they are as adults. Her work at Drawn & Quarterly includes Making Comics, The Good Times are Killing Me, One! Hundred! Demons! and much, much more, given that she’s been drawing and writing her own stories for decades.
Barry is awarded the Genius Grant because of her work “inspiring creative engagement through original graphic works and a teaching practice centered on the role of image making in communication.” For more on MacArthur Genius Grant winner Lynda Barry, check out the video below.