photographer An My Le MacArthur Fellow Photo23 people learned recently that they had been picked to receive $500,000 each to fund their work, with no strings attached.

Known as genius grants, the MacArthur Fellowships, given annually, are meant to provide recipients with the freedom to pursue creative activities and ambitious projects unburdened by financial concerns. This year, those activities range from bow-making for string instruments to art entrepreneurship to finding a new way to lift people out of poverty.

New Yorker Chris Thile, a prodigy mandolin player is one of two fellows who are musicians, along with two documentary filmmakers, two photographers, and a host of writers, mathematicians and scientists.

Meet the full class of 2012 at the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation website:

(WATCH the AP video below, and READ about the Fellows at WS journal)

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