CLAS cinematic arts faculty member Chris Harris receives Herb Alpert Award

Harris says he hopes the award, which carries a $75,000 prize, will garner attention to the creativity and research at the University of Iowa and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
Monday, June 5, 2023

By Emily Delgado  

Christopher Harris, an associate professor in College of Liberal Arts and Sciences' Department of Cinematic Arts recently received the Herb Alpert Award in the Arts.  

Christopher Harris
Christopher Harris

The Herb Alpert Award is awarded to mid-career artists who have shown dedication and taking risks in the fields of dance, film/video, music, theatre, and visual artists. It carries a $75,000 unrestricted prize.  
According to the award website, Harris’ body of work “bears witness to the impacts of anti-blackness and to neglected and misrepresented landscapes, stories, and histories.”  

“I make art to have an impact, so this award is extremely validating in the sense that it is a very direct indication that my work is doing just that,” Harris says. 

He says this is the first time in thirty years the award was granted to a UI faculty member. 

“I’ve always said that the arts show us possibilities for reimagining the world for the better and help us more fully understand our collective and individual potentials,” Harris says.  “There is a lot of cutting edge creative and scholarly research going on in cinematic arts and I hope this award helps shine a light on it.”  

Harris says his work is supported by the university, college, and the Obermann Center for Advanced Studies at Iowa. Harris recently partnered with Obermann and two outside scholars to organize and host Frequências: Contemporary Afro-Brazilian Cinema & the Black Diaspora, a symposium at the University of Iowa highlighting the work of Black and Afro-Brazilian filmmakers.  

“The events were aimed at the generation of new knowledge regarding the central question of how Black identity is figured in the new Afro-Brazilian cinema and how that resonates with Black cinema globally,” Harris explains.  

The University of Iowa College of Liberal Arts and Sciences offers about 70 majors across the humanities; fine, performing and literary arts; natural and mathematical sciences; social and behavioral sciences; and communication disciplines. About 15,000 undergraduate and nearly 2,000 graduate students study each year in the college’s 37 departments, led by faculty at the forefront of teaching and research in their disciplines. The college teaches all Iowa undergraduates through the college's general education program, CLAS CORE. About 80 percent of all Iowa undergraduates begin their academic journey in CLAS. The college confers about 60 percent of the university's bachelor's degrees each academic year.