This Rhinebeck Teacher Brought Home the Famed MacArthur Fellowship Prize

The ‘genius’ award now belongs to cartoonist Lynda Barry, one of the Omega Institute's most famous educators.


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Students at Rhinebeck's Omega Institute will now be even more inspired and excited to learn from a ‘genius.’ Recognized for her work as a cartoonist, novelist, and educator, longtime Omega teacher Lynda Barry was awarded a grant of $625,000 by the MacArthur Foundation on September 26. Since 1998, she has dedicated part of her life leading workshops at Omega Institute, where her students focus on personal growth and social change.

“We are absolutely thrilled Lynda Barry is being recognized, not only for her exceptional accomplishments, but as a person whose ‘originality, insight, and potential’ are worth investing in,” says Carla Goldstein, Omega president. “Lynda inspires students with her skill, wit, and dedication to teaching. Her sold-out workshops at Omega have been among our most popular writing programs for more than 20 years. We are truly honored to count her as a member of our faculty.”

Throughout the decades, Barry has worked on the weekly comic strip Ernie Pook’s Comeek, graphic novels such as The Good Times Are Killing Me, and her book about the process of being creative, What It Is. The New York Times has recounted one of Barry’s novels, Cruddy, as “a work of terrible beauty.”

In 1978, Barry received a Bachelors of Arts at Evergreen State College in Washington. For the past seven years, she has also been associated with the University of Wisconsin at Madison where she currently lives, and is  a Professor of Interdisciplinary Creativity in the Department of Art.

Barry will release her new book this November called Making Comics. In 2020, she will teach two 5-day workshops at Omega: Writing the Unthinkable, and Writing From Workbook 52, which will be co-led by author Dan Chaon. She describes these two workshops as “Focusing first on memory, we embark on a journey into the unexpected. Memories come as uncontrollably as dreams — you may end up remembering things you haven’t thought of since you were a kid. Then we move into fiction. It’s a way of writing that’s freaky, vivid, and a lot of fun.”

For more information on her classes in 2020, visit www.eomega.org/workshops/teachers/lynda-barry

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