Seattle Art Museum has been giving bi-annual awards to promising, early career (active for less than 10 years) black artists since 2009.
The winner of the 2017 Gwendolyn Knight and Jacob Lawrence Prize (which includes a fatty $10k award along with a solo exhibition in SAM’s Gwendolyn Knight & Jacob Lawrence Gallery) is New Jersey-based video installation and performance artist Sondra Perry, who joins the ranks of past winners that include Titus Kaphar (2009), Theaster Gates (2011), LaToya Ruby Frazier (2013), and Brenna Youngblood (2015).
Perry explores abstraction and representation via video and computer-based media installations and performance, and just closed her debut institutional solo show, Resident Evil, at The Kitchen in NYC, which combined mixed video-game perspectives with bodycam and news footage. She told the New York Times she wanted to explore how the power structures that govern the internet shaped our sense of self and autonomy
“When we think that we are trying to express ourselves, and we’re being individuals," she said. "We’re being individuals within a frame that is primarily to collect our data and sell us stuff.”
On a side note, her first-ever solo exhibit (Some Type Of Way in 2015) took place in Seattle at independent gallery INCA, while one of her video works was featured in SAM’s Disguise: Masks and Global African Art show (also in 2015), which travelled to the Brooklyn Museum and the Fowler at UCLA.
Perry's work will get its own SAM solo treatment in the Gwendolyn Knight & Jacob Lawrence Gallery this fall, and will be curated by Sandra Jackson-Dumont, Chairman of Education at the MOMA and SAM’s former Deputy Director for Education and Public Programs/Adjunct Curator in Modern and Contemporary Art. She says, "Sondra’s work is at once subversively witty, concretely inventive, and above all, timely,” says Jackson-Dumont.“I am mesmerized by her uncanny use of performance and digital platforms to create meaning and comment on black experiences in particular and societal issues overall. I could not be more thrilled to work with this exceptional artist.”
Stay tuned on Slog for further details, and get info about other upcoming Seattle Art Museum events and exhibitions here.