This is The Strangers 14th year giving money and attention to artists.
This is The Stranger's 14th year giving money and attention to artists. Kelly O

Nominees are selected by the critics at The Stranger, who spend the year looking at, writing about, and arguing over art. We select three nominees each in five categories: visual art, literature, performance, film, and music. Nominees are notified via cake.

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All the nominees will be celebrated at the Stranger Genius Awards show at the Moore Theatre on September 24, where Seattle Rock Orchestra will perform and the final winners will be announced. Recipients in each category get $5,000, no strings attached. To read about everyone who's ever won a Genius Award, click here.

The 2016 nominees are below! Congratulations to all of them.

VISUAL ART

Barbara Earl Thomas, who channels deep wit, material mastery, and primordial forces in captivating prints, cut-paper installations, paintings, and writing.
Barbara Earl Thomas channels deep wit, material mastery, and primordial forces in captivating prints, cut-paper installations, paintings, and writing. Kelly O

Rob Rhee, who is sometimes making art out of the world’s oldest plants, and other times hosting an overnight Airbnb that’s also an art installation—he’s uncategorizable and brilliant.
Rob Rhee is sometimes making art out of the world’s oldest plants, and other times hosting an overnight Airbnb that’s also an art installation—he’s uncategorizable and brilliant. Kelly O

Mario Lemafa, whose sculptures, installations, and videos are ingenious reinventions, in completely everyday materials, of the most basic signs and symbols for belonging in this world.
Mario Lemafa's sculptures, installations, and videos are ingenious reinventions, in completely everyday materials, of the most basic signs and symbols for belonging in this world. Kelly O


LITERATURE

Lindy West, a humorist and social critic (and Stranger staffer from 2009 to 2011) who’s just published her debut memoir, Shrill. Here she is backstage at Town Hall Seattle last night, where she gave a reading to 1,200 people.
Lindy West is a brain-meltingly funny writer and social critic who’s just published her debut memoir, Shrill. She used to work at The Stranger. This photo was taken backstage at Town Hall Seattle last night, where she gave a reading to 1,200 people. Kelly O

Robert Lashley, a poet who bridges the gap between performance poetry and page poetry in a way that makes you wonder why there’s a bridge there in the first place.  His 2014 book is called The Homeboy Songs.
Robert Lashley is a poet who bridges the gap between performance poetry and page poetry in a way that makes you wonder why there’s a bridge there in the first place. His 2014 book is called The Homeboy Songs. Kelly O

Wave Books, an independent press based in Seattle that publishes gorgeous books that alter the international literary landscape, written by uncategorizable writers such as Eileen Myles, Don Mee Choi, and Joe Wenderoth.
Wave Books, an independent press based in Seattle, publishes gorgeous books that alter the international literary landscape, written by category-defying writers such as Eileen Myles, Don Mee Choi, and Joe Wenderoth. Kelly O


PERFORMANCE

Noelani Pantastico, a principal ballerina at Pacific Northwest Ballet who uses her masterful technique to tell rich, fully expressed, and nuanced stories without saying a word.
Noelani Pantastico is a principal ballerina at Pacific Northwest Ballet who uses her masterful technique to tell rich, fully expressed, and nuanced stories without saying a word. Kelly O

Emily Chisholm, a theater-maker who studied at Cornish, honed her gifts on Seattle fringe stages, and has emerged as a staggeringly versatile lead actor, equally commanding in contemporary comedy and classical drama.
Emily Chisholm is a theater-maker who studied at Cornish, honed her gifts on Seattle fringe stages, and has emerged as a staggeringly versatile lead actor, equally commanding in contemporary comedy and classical drama. Kelly O

That’swhatshesaid, a play about women being silenced in the theater industry that started a national conversation about copyright law and gender equity, is the first production to be nominated for a Stranger Genius Award itself. The nomination comprises (from left to right) performer Erin Pike, director HATLO, and playwright Courtney Meaker.
That’swhatshesaid, a work about women being silenced in the theater industry, started a national conversation about copyright law and gender equity in theater. It's the first production itself to be nominated for a Genius Award. The nomination comprises (from left to right) performer Erin Pike, director HATLO, and playwright Courtney Meaker. Kelly O


FILM

Mel Eslyn, the only nominee to return from last year’s roster, has only continued her triumphant run, heading up indie film production for Duplass Brothers Productions, producing the features The Intervention, Dreamland, Half Life, and the local efforts Rainbow Time and Lane 1974, and winning the coveted Producer’s Prize at this year’s Independent Spirit Awards.
Mel Eslyn, the only nominee to return from last year’s roster, has continued her triumphant run, heading up indie film production for Duplass Brothers Productions, producing the features The Intervention, Dreamland, Half Life, and the local efforts Rainbow Time and Lane 1974, and winning the coveted Producer’s Prize at this year’s Independent Spirit Awards. Kelly O

Tracy Rector is a director, producer, and educator who runs Longhouse Media, an organization that provides support to for indigenous filmmakers. She recently directed Maiden of Deception Pass: Guardian of Her Samish People, which is rich in striking images, cinematic poetry, and historical information.
Tracy Rector is a director, producer, and educator who runs Longhouse Media, an organization that provides support to for indigenous filmmakers. She recently directed Maiden of Deception Pass: Guardian of Her Samish People, which is rich in striking images, cinematic poetry, and historical information. Kelly O

Sandy Cioffi, a filmmaker who in 2009 made national headlines with the documentary Sweet Crude, is also a popular educator, a video installation artist, and a futurist promoting the next big step for the art of cinema: virtual reality.
Sandy Cioffi, a filmmaker who in 2009 made national headlines with the documentary Sweet Crude, is also a popular educator, a video installation artist, and a futurist promoting the next big step for the art of cinema: virtual reality. Kelly O


MUSIC

Erik Blood, an idiosyncratically versatile musician and producer whose advanced technical skills are matched by his extraordinary soulfulness. He was nominated for a Stranger Genius Award in 2014, after the release of his debut album Touch Screens. His second album, Lost in Slow Motion, came out last month.
Erik Blood is an idiosyncratically versatile musician and producer whose advanced technical skills are matched by his extraordinary soulfulness. He was nominated for a Stranger Genius Award in 2014, after the release of his debut album Touch Screens. His second album, Lost in Slow Motion, came out last month. Kelly O

Silas Blak, who was at the underground epicenter of Seattle hiphop back when it was little more than a rumor, helped build the foundation of a thriving regional scene. The two solo albums he made in the past year demonstrate the verbal and formal dexterity of his flow, and the gravity of his philosophical and political consciousness.
Silas Blak, who was at the underground epicenter of Seattle hiphop back when it was little more than a rumor, helped build the foundation of a thriving regional scene. The two solo albums he made in the past year demonstrate the verbal and formal dexterity of his flow, and the gravity of his philosophical and political consciousness. Kelly O

Hardly Art Records, a label that operates under the protective wing of Sup Pop, has become nothing short of a clearinghouse for essential feminist punk and indie pop releases, including records by Tacocat, Chastity Belt, La Luz, Gazebos, Protomartyr, Shannon and the Clams, S, Gazebos, and newest signees the Julie Ruin (featuring Kathleen Hanna).
Hardly Art Records, a label that operates under the protective wing of Sub Pop, has become nothing short of a clearinghouse for essential feminist punk and indie pop releases, including records by Tacocat, Chastity Belt, La Luz, Gazebos, Protomartyr, Shannon and the Clams, S, and newest signees the Julie Ruin (featuring Kathleen Hanna). Kelly O