September 22--The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation announced that School of Art alumnus Mark Bradford  is among the 24 MacArthur Fellows for 2009 . The “genius award” is a $500,000, no-strings-attached grant for individuals who have shown exceptional creativity in their work and the potential to make important contributions in the future.
Mark received his BFA and MFA at CalArts and is best-known for massively scaled, abstract collages that he assembles out of signage and other materials collected, most frequently, from his own neighborhood in South Central Los Angeles.
Yesterday, Los Angeles Times art critic Christopher Knight commented , "Bradford has developed a marvelous method that fuses collage, which sticks together fragments of found images and signs, and décollage--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."
In 2004, his work was featured in the exhibition Bounce: Mark Bradford and Glenn Kaino  at REDCAT (Roy and Edna Disney CalArts Theater). At that time, the artist discussed the signage of South Los Angeles as, "about something that is abandoned...You learn quickly walking by these urban abstractions that within the walls of those abandoned buildings lie the accumulated stories, half-forgotten but retaining an energy-in-waiting."
An article in New York magazine, How I Made It: Mark Bradford,  traces milestones in Mark’s career including his time at CalArts where he was mentored by artist Daniel Joseph Martinez, as well as his REDCAT exhibition where curator Eungie Joo encouraged him, for the first time, to “work big.”
In addition, Bradford was recognized for his achievements at the 2008 REDCAT Gala, an award presented by the writer and New Yorker theater critic Hilton Als and REDCAT Gallery Director and Curator Clara Kim.
She notes: "Mark’s artistic career has skyrocketed since REDCAT first presented his work in 2004. I can’t imagine anyone who is more deserving of this honor and recognition. His ambition and generosity have grown equally. We are ecstatic for him and so proud to have shared the past five years in the company of an incredible mind, visionary and friend.”
Daniel J. Socolow, Director of the MacArthur Fellows Program praised Mark and the other 2009 award recipients as “a remarkable group of original and creative people, each quintessentially a MacArthur Fellow and all brimming with promise to improve our world in myriad ways."
Watch Bradford discuss this work  and the MacArthur Fellowship.