Local Geniuses Win MacArthur Grants

The winners of this year’s MacArthur Foundation “genius” grants have been announced, and there’s a couple Angelenos in the mix. Collage artist Mark Bradford and USC law professor Elyn Saks will be among the 24 winners to each receive a $500,000 prize. LA Times has more on these local honorees:

Times art critic Christopher Knight said in an interview Monday: “Bradford has developed a marvelous method that fuses collage, which sticks together fragments of found images and signs, and decollage — its opposite — which tears images and signs asunder. His subjects are small, like daily life in an urban neighborhood, and monumental, like Hurricane Katrina and the trauma of an entire city. The work holds in tension a continuous cycle of society coming apart at the seams, patching itself back together and then coming apart again.”

Saks, 53, suffered from schizophrenia all her life, but kept it hidden while excelling in her academic studies, receiving a philosophy degree from Oxford University and a law degree from Yale University before joining the faculty at USC. She is also an adjunct professor of psychiatry at UC San Diego, where she does research about society’s rejection of the mentally ill and how high-functioning schizophrenics cope.

Saks came out of the mental health closet with her 2007 memoir, “The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness.” The book described the night terrors she had suffered throughout her life, her earlier beliefs that she had mentally caused the deaths of thousands of people, and the often-inhumane treatment she had received at mental health facilities.