Evergreen Alumna Selected for MacArthur ‘Genius’ Grant

Linda Barry

Lynda Barry, Evergreen ‘79, is among 26 people chosen as 2019 fellows of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. 

Barry, a graphic novelist, cartoonist and educator, was selected for inspiring creative engagement through original graphic works and a teaching practice centered on the role of image making in communication.

Barry is well known for her weekly comic strip “Ernie Pook’s Comeek”.

She has also published graphic novels such as The Good Times Are Killing Me (1988) and One! Hundred! Demons! (2002).

Over the past several years, Barry has turned her focus to education. She is currently an assistant professor of interdisciplinary creativity at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The MacArthur fellowship honors “extraordinary originality” and comes with a no-strings-attached grant of $625,000, to be distributed over five years.

When asked about how The Evergreen State College helped her in her career, Barry said: “I still talk about my experience there at least once a week. Sometimes more. I'm still in touch with my teacher Marilyn Frasca. I don't even like to think of what my life would have been like had I not gone to Evergreen.”

Frasca taught visual art and writing at Evergeen. Barry studied the history of the Renaissance and Middle Ages during her first year at Evergreen, and the history of science during her second year. “Then my third and fourth year I worked with Marilyn Frasca in one way or another,” she recalls. 

“To this day, it’s one of the most powerful things I was given at Evergreen; the idea that the thing I call my work is from a different part of me than what comes off the top of my head,” Barry adds. “To start developing a relationship with that working part of me, the part of me that ‘speaks’ the image language, and to be doing this at the age of 20 gave me a tremendous advantage.”

On Barry’s website, The Near-Sighted Monkey, she posted a music video of the 1985 song Caravan of Love, by Isley, Jasper, Isley with a caption reading: “This one goes out to all my teachers and all my students with celebration and love love love.” A fan replied: “This gives me hope for humanity. Congratulations!!!”

Photo Credit: Jeff Miller / Courtesy of University of Wisconsin-Madison