MacArthur fellows for 2017: a tragicomic novelist, an ‘Afropolitan’ painter and more – Los Angeles Times

The 2017 MacArthur fellows have been revealed, and among the honorees are an experimental opera director, a freewheeling novelist exploring the moral complexities of the Vietnam War, a Nigerian painter mining her “Afropolitan” perspective and a gender-bending theater pioneer.

What do these four have in common? All are in Los Angeles. Yuval Sharon, Viet Thanh Nguyen, Njideka Akunyili Crosby and Taylor Mac all are based in the city or are staging work here, turning this year’s MacArthur fellows class into another sign of a shift west for American arts and culture influencers.

The annual no-strings-attached awards of $625,000 per person — often called genius grants — are given to “extraordinarily talented and creative individuals as an investment in their potential,” said the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Fellows span the worlds of science, business, education and beyond.

This year’s 24 fellows, who were announced late Tuesday (Pacific), include Sharon, whose L.A.-based opera company the Industry staged the 2015 roaming production “Hopscotch: A Mobile Opera for 24 Cars” in various locations in and around downtown. Next month, Sharon, 37, who also holds the title artist-collaborator at the Los Angeles Philharmonic, will direct the world premiere of Annie Gosfield’s “War of the Worlds,” based on Orson Welles’ 1938 fake news broadcast about a Martian invasion.

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