A University of Iowa research scientist who makes paper to help preserve rare books and artwork is among 24 Americans receiving a coveted “genius” award honoring creativity. Chicago’s MacArthur Foundation is giving 59-year old Professor Timothy Barrett a half-million dollars over five years, with no strings attached.
“It wasn’t really the money as much as it was the recognition because to choose papermaking history and technique and aesthetics as a career direction is really a risky thing to do,” Barrett says. “I’ve been very lucky to be here at the university for almost 25 years but in general, there are very, very few career tracks so the acknowledgment from MacArthur is what really matters the most.”
In announcing the awards, the foundation says the “genius” selections don’t only recognize past accomplishments, but also anticipate future achievements. Barrett says he’s considering writing a book on Western papermaking.