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Firelei Báez. Photo: Lia Clay.

Firelei Báez Among 2020 Herb Alpert Award Winners

The Herb Alpert Foundation and the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) have presented the 2020 Herb Alpert Award in the Arts to five midcareer artists in the fields of visual art, film and video, music, theater, and dance. The recipients, Firelei Báez, Sky Hopinka, Christian Scott, Phil Soltanoff, and Karen Sherman, were honored at a virtual ceremony held on Friday, May 22 and will each receive an unrestricted $75,000 grant.

Báez was selected for the visual arts category by a prize jury—comprising Ondine Chavoya, professor of art at Williams College; Paul Ha, director of the MIT List Visual Arts Center; and Naima Keith, vice president of education and public programs at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art—who praised the “fearless, subversive beauty of her expansive, color-saturated, highly patterned and ornamented paintings,” as well as the “immersive and layered visual and kinesthetic experience of her ambitious room-sized and public installations, which both subtly and rigorously interrogate history.”

Commenting on this year’s award cycle, Rona Sebastian, president of the foundation, said: “We are grateful to be able to celebrate the Herb Alpert Award’s twenty-sixth anniversary during this very challenging year, where more than ever the arts are a vital and necessary way of bringing sustenance, meaning, and well-being to our world. In recognizing and honoring these five visionary mid-career artists who expand their fields as well as our own horizons, we acknowledge the profound social, cultural, and personal impact their work, and the arts overall, has on a civil society. . .and particularly a civil society in the midst of crisis.”

Previous Herb Alpert Award winners include Tania Bruguera, Cai Guo-Qiang, Arthur Jafa, Ralph Lemon, Taylor Mac, Kerry James Marshall, Okwui Okpokwasili, Suzan-Lori Parks, Carrie Mae Weems, and Julia Wolfe.

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