The Herb Alpert Foundation and California Institute of the Arts awarded the 24th Annual Herb Alpert Award in the Arts to five exceptional mid–career artists at a lunch hosted by the Herb Alpert Foundation in Santa Monica on May 18.
The awards recognize artists working in Dance, Film/Video, Music, Theatre and Visual Arts who are risk-takers using their talent, vision, and labor to make something that matters within and potentially beyond their field.
The outstanding candidate in each genre received an unrestricted prize of $75,000.
“We are delighted to celebrate the 2018 Herb Alpert Award in the Arts,” said Rona Sebastian, president of the Herb Alpert Foundation. “The five winners are visionary artists who expand their fields as well as our horizons. We believe that championing the arts, individual artists, and arts education – from early childhood through professional development – has profound social, cultural, and personal impact. This is at the core of the Foundation’s interests.”
“Artists need two essential things – space and time – to create models of how the world should be through their work,” said CalArts President Ravi Rajan. “The visionary impulse of Lani Hall and Herb Alpert to help artists create the time and space needed to generate new work is at once generous and astute to their needs. CalArts is honored to administer this transformative award, helping shape the careers of 120 artists over the past 24 years.”
“At this fraught moment it’s a powerful antidote to honor and support this year’s winners who are alert to the world, rigorous in their reach, and fiercely engaged with that which is undepicted, unheard, misnamed, unspoken, buried, and marginalized,” said Irene Borger, Director of the Herb Alpert Award in the Arts.
Borger describes why the 2018 panelists chose these five artists:
“The Dance panel was thrilled to select choreographer Okwui Okpokwasili for her profound, generous, and risk-taking work, and for the powerful way she poetically investigates and embodies joy, grief, desire, and the landscape of a woman of color with integrity, artistic intelligence and physical truth.”
Okwui Okpokwasili’s Short Bio
Panelists: Ann Carlson, Kristy Edmunds, Yoko Shioya
“The Film/Video panel honors artist Arthur Jafa, for his fierce, beautiful, courageous work with its profound understanding of the myriad issues that violently suppress individual freedom. His astute, at times crushing, the juxtaposition of images and ideas, coupled with lyrical and syncopated editing embodies a grace and resilience that boldly confronts conditions of extremity and terror with hope.”
Arthur Jafa’s Short Bio
Panelists: Natalia Almada, Eungie Joo
“Composer and pianist Courtney Bryan was chosen as the winner in Music for her impressive, deeply thought out, new cosmopolitan classical music imbued with fierce urgency of the moment as well as for her commitment to spirit and social justice, to shifting power dynamics and deep understanding of the effects of the human voice.”
Courtney Bryan’s Short Bio
Panelists: Derek Bermel, Dohee Lee, George Lewis
“Playwright Robert O’Hara was selected by the Theatre panel for his ferocious, funny, fearless, spiky, provocative work, his powerful, mature voice, formal chops, radical thinking and incredible rhythmic ear. The panel was ‘blown away’ by the ways he breaks all conventions, fiercely complicates the notion of race, and, in short, writes extraordinary plays that leap off the page.”
Robert O’Hara’s Short Bio
Panelists: Bertie Ferdman, Joseph Haj, Todd London
“Artist Michael Rakowitz was named the Visual Arts prizewinner for his bold and daring, deeply researched, deeply human work. Unearthing hidden histories, he makes art that speaks to a broad scope of social, political and economic issues which potently reflect our present moment, and create bridges across time and cultures.”
Michael Rakowitz’s Short Bio
Panelists: Cecilia Farjardo-Hill, Omar Kholeif, Carrie Mae Weems
For more information about the awards, visit
www.herbalpertawards.org and www.herbalpertfoundation.org.