, , , , ,

2 UW-Madison Professors Among ‘Genius’ Grant Winners

Cartoonist Lynda Barry And Geologist Andrea Dutton Are Among 26 Fellows To Receive $625K Grant

Andrea Dutton at the University of Wisconsin-Madison
Andrea Dutton at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation/AP Photo

Where some may see obstacles and controversy when it comes to climate change and art education, two University of Wisconsin-Madison professors and 2019 MacArthur Genius Grant winners see opportunity.

Lynda Barry, a cartoonist and author, and Andrea Dutton, a geologist who studies ancient sea levels and ice changes, are among the 26 fellows to receive a $625,000 grant over five years.

Both Dutton and Barry say they are taking some time to decide what to do with the award.

Stay informed on the latest news

Sign up for WPR’s email newsletter.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

“I’d really like to take the opportunity to think outside the box with this,” Dutton said. “I would like to use at least a piece of the award to pay it forward because my work really centers around educating people on climate change and what it means for our society.”

In her work, Dutton said she’s found herself at the intersection of several strong movements. She calls it an exciting, but challenging, time.

“There’s the fight for science, and not silencing science, there’s #MeToo and the #MeTooSTEM movement. And then there’s climate change and climate change denial,” Dutton said. “I’m kind of in the vortex of all of those … there’s a lot of momentum building.”

Barry said writing a book is high on her list.

“One of the projects I want to do with all my heart is a book about drawing with kids that’s not about teaching kids to draw, but having kids teach you to draw,” she said.

Much of Barry’s work is focused on what she calls the “split” of writing and drawing, and how to bring the two back together again.

“My work is all about this habitat restoration,” she said. “Once you put these two things back together again, you’re able to say and do things you didn’t have any idea you could do.”

While their work represents different fields, Dutton emphasized the connection of the fields.

“I was a music major as an undergrad,” Dutton said. “My liberal arts background and my interdisciplinary perspective has really helped to fuel my success over the years, and I think that is something people shouldn’t ignore.”

Barry came to UW-Madison in 2013 and is the Chazen Family Distinguished Chair in Art. Her 2009 graphic novel, “What It Is,” won the Eisner Award for Best Reality-Based Graphic Novel.

Dutton joined UW-Madison’s faculty this semester. She will spend the spring semester as a Fulbright Scholar studying historic sea levels and the Antarctic ice sheet in New Zealand.