Artist Carrie Mae Weems is one of 24 people honored as one of the MacArthur Foundation's 2013 class of MacArthur Fellows.
The awards go to "exceptionally creative individuals with a track record of achievement and the potential for even more significant contributions in the future," the foundation said in its announcement.
Fellows receive a stipend of $625,000 over five years simply to follow their own creative vision.
"This year's class of MacArthur Fellows is an extraordinary group of individuals who collectively reflect the breadth and depth of American creativity," says Cecilia Conrad, vice president of the MacArthur Fellows Program on its website.
"They are artists, social innovators, scientists, and humanists who are working to improve the human condition and to preserve and sustain our natural and cultural heritage. Their stories should inspire each of us to consider our own potential to contribute our talents for the betterment of humankind."
This year's Fellows are –
Addressing pressing issues, such as immigration policy (Margaret Stock), the health care needs of the chronically ill in impoverished communities in the United States (Jeffrey Brenner) and in Africa (Julie Livingston), climate change and food security (David Lobell), and educational achievement (Angela Duckworth)
Translating theory into action to customize treatment regimens for the chronically ill (Susan Murphy), preserve historical audio recordings (Carl Haber), and make new pharmaceutical products by synthesizing natural compounds (Phil Baran)
Pioneering new insights into economic behavior (Colin Camerer), the properties of ultra-cold atoms (Ana Maria Rey), the link between ancient plant life and modern ecosystems (C. Kevin Boyce), planetary science (Sara Seager), materials design (Craig Fennie), the reliability and security of wireless networks (Dina Katabi), and jazz music (Vijay Iyer)
Transforming our understanding of late Roman and medieval Britain (Robin Fleming), classical music and ballet (Jeremy Denk and Alexei Ratmansky), vision and the central nervous system (Sheila Nirenberg), and social identity and visual imagery (Carrie Mae Weems)
Exploring new roles for fantasy, surrealism, and mythology in drama and fiction (Tarell McCraney, Karen Russell, and Donald Antrim) and modern dance in the portrayal of urban communities (Kyle Abraham)
Members of this year's class join 873 other MacArthur Fellows who have been recognized since the Program began in 1981. The Fellows were selected through a rigorous process involving thousands of expert and anonymous nominators, evaluators, and selectors. The Foundation does not accept unsolicited or outside nominations.
Watch these the videos featuring: Carrie Mae Weems, Kyle Abraham and Tarrell McCrane.