In 2015, Rebecca Mead profiled Lin-Manuel Miranda, who wanted to tell a story about the Founding Fathers by melding hip-hop with history. Miranda’s creative vision revolutionized the Broadway musical and influenced a generation of theatregoers. Like Miranda, many artistic trailblazers often work at the intersection between the traditional and the visionary. This week, we’re bringing you a selection of pieces on creative innovators. In “The Abstractionist,” John Seabrook writes about the inventive designs of the architect Zaha Hadid. In “The Shadow Act,” Hilton Als explores the imaginative silhouettes of the artist Kara Walker and considers the historical influences on her work. In “The Misfit,” Judith Thurman examines the life of the reclusive avant-garde designer Rei Kawakubo. Finally, in “Godmother of Soul,” Kelefa Sanneh chronicles the remarkable career of the soul singer Erykah Badu. All of these pieces remind us that the creative spark is just a starting point for innovative virtuosity. We hope they bring some enchantment to your Sunday.
A new musical brings the Founding Fathers back to life—with a lot of hip-hop.
Zaha Hadid’s unfettered invention.
Kara Walker’s vision.
Rei Kawakubo is a Japanese avant-gardist of few words, and she changed women’s fashion.
Erykah Badu’s expanding musical universe.