Five artists receive $75,000 prize

California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) President Ravi Rajan delivers a speech during his inauguration at the campus in Valencia on Friday, Oct. 13, 2017. Nikolas Samuels/The Signal

The California Institute of the Arts and the Herb Alpert Foundation have announced the five recipients who will receive $75,000 at the 24th annual Herb Alpert Award in the Arts lunch.

Following the values of jazz musician Herb Alpert, who is considered to be one of the most visionary philanthropists in entertainment, the Herb Alpert Award in the Arts annually recognizes risk-taking artists who use their talent, vision and labor to make something that matters within and potentially beyond their fields.

“This is at the core of the Foundation’s interests,” said Rona Sebastian, President of the Herb Alpert Foundation. “We believe that championing the arts, individual artists, and arts education – from early childhood through professional development – has profound social, cultural, and personal impact.”

Sebastian went on to describe this year’s winners as “visionary artists who expand their fields as well as our horizons.”

For her commitment to social justice, shifting power dynamics and her deep understanding of the human voice, officials said, “composer and pianist Courtney Bryan was chosen as the winner in music for her impressive, deeply thought out, new cosmopolitan classical music.”

The dance panel selected choreographer Okwui Okpokwasili because of her profound and risk-taking work, which investigates and embodies the landscape of a woman of color.

The film and video panel chose to honor artist Arthur Jafa for his fierce films, while artist Michael Rakowitz was named the Visual Arts prizewinner.

“The panel was ‘blown away’ by the way playwright Robert O’Hara breaks all conventions, fiercely complicates the notion of race, and, in short, writes extraordinary plays that leap off the page,” officials said.

Each of the artists will be recognized at Friday’s ceremony and receive the $75,000 prize, which has been administered by California Institute of the Arts since 1994.

“CalArts is honored to administer this transformative award,” said CalArts President Ravi Rajan, which has helped shape the careers of 120 artists over the past 24 years.

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