Herb & Lani Alpert’s generous mid-career funding of meritorious artists

Dance · Film · Music · Theater · Visual arts

Robert O’Hara, Courtney Bryan, Michael Rakowitz, Lani Hall Alpert, Herb Alpert, Okwui Okpokwasili, and Arthur Jafa, Photo credit: Francesco Da Vinci

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.

Choreographer Okwui Okpokwasili, filmmaker Arthur Jafa, composer and pianist Courtney Bryan, playwright Robert O’Hara and interdisciplinary artist Michael Rakowitz each won an unrestricted prize of $75,000.

“We are delighted to celebrate the 2018 Herb Alpert Award in the Arts,” says 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.”

Said Irene Borger at the award ceremony at the Alpert Foundation on Friday, “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 is a multidisciplinary artist, choreographer, actor, writer,
and luminous stage presence with the talent to hold and unsettle audiences.

Finding beauty and strength in a ‘broken body,’ she shimmers, spasms, slams the air, repeats physical gestures, deploys multiple generations of performers, and is alive to the possibilities of energetic interchange between performer and audience. Viewing the body as a site
of protest, her generous, socially engaged work draws on history (The Nigerian Women’s War of 1929; the Boko Haram kidnappings of more than 300 girls) and literature (Amos Tutuola, Octavia Butler…) A Bessie Award winner, she has collaborated and performed with Herb Alpert Award winners Ralph Lemon and Nora Chipaumire, and is currently a Hodder Fellow at Princeton University. Okpokwasili lives in Brooklyn, NY.

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