Meet the MacArthur Winners – on WPT and WPR

September 23, 2016 Susannah Brooks Leave a Comment

As we learned the names of the new MacArthur Fellows yesterday – winners of the so-called “genius grants” – we celebrate members of the class of 2016 with Wisconsin roots and those whose work has appeared on WPT.

Some names (like last year’s winner Lin-Manuel Miranda) may seem more familiar than others, but all offer fascinating things to think about – which makes them perfect for WPT and WPR. It’s no surprise, then, that you may have seen or heard them on the air.

Anne Basting, an alumna of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Theatre and Drama (which shares its hallways with WPT’s Madison offices), appeared on WPT’s Director’s Cut in 2014 to discuss Penelope: The Documentary with director Brad Lichtenstein. A playwright and professor at UW-Milwaukee, Basting was honored as an “artist and educator demonstrating the potential of storytelling and creative expression to improve the lives of elders experiencing cognitive impairment.”

Listeners of WPR may also have heard Basting discuss her work on multiple occasions. Listen here as Basting discusses her book The Penelope Project in May of 2016 with Rob Ferrett on WPR’s Central Time. Basting also spoke on Central Time in 2014 about using art to bring people together and break down isolation in Milwaukee. In addition, Terry Bell interviewed Basting in 2014, and in 2011, Basting spoke with Joy Cardin about creativity, aging and memory loss.

A 2015 MacArthur winner also has strong Wisconsin connections. Matthew Desmond, a UW-Madison graduate who is now John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Social Sciences at Harvard, received a MacArthur fellowship in 2015.

Desmond’s 2016 book Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City is the UW-Madison common read during 2016-2017. The book is based on his work as principal investigator of the Milwaukee Area Renters Study, an original survey of tenants in Milwaukee’s low-income private housing sector.

See Desmond on Here and Now, discussing how eviction deepens poverty, in March of 2016.

You can also see and hear other 2016 Fellows in clips from both WPT and WPR.

  • Josh Kun, a cultural historian at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, appeared briefly on WPT as “resident smart guy” narrating a Sound Tracks Quick Hits clip about his friends in the band Ozomatli. His work explores the ways in which the arts and popular culture – music, food, album covers and more – are conduits for cross-cultural exchange.
  • Maggie Nelson, a poet, essayist and critic who teaches at CalArts, has contributed twice to WPR’s To the Best of Our Knowledge. The MacArthur Foundation describes her as “a writer forging a new mode of nonfiction that transcends the divide between the personal and the intellectual and renders pressing issues of our time into portraits of day-to-day lived experience.” Nelson discussed her book The Art of Cruelty: A Reckoning with Steve Paulson in 2011. She may also be heard in her August 2016 review of David Wojnarowicz’s book Close to the Knives.
  • Mary Reid Kelley appeared on Art in the Twenty-First Century in 2012. (Segment begins at approximately 20:00.) She is a “video artist whose unique vision spans a variety of media and culminates in arresting, playful, and erudite videos that explore the condition of women throughout history.”
  • Sarah Stillman, a writer for The New Yorker, appeared on PBS NewsHour in 2013, discussing her investigation of police seizure of property from citizens who have not been proven guilty of crimes. She is a “long form journalist bringing to light the stories of people usually invisible to mainstream reporting and providing new and compelling perspectives on even well-covered social justice issues.

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