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Sondra Perry Wins 2017 Gwendolyn Knight and Jacob Lawrence Prize

Perry is the first video artist to be awarded the prize.

Installation view of Sondra Perry’s 2016 show at the Kitchen in New York. Courtesy of The Kitchen, Installation images by Jason Mandella.

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The Seattle Art Museum (SAM) announced the selection of video installation and performance artist Sondra Perry as the winner of the 2017 Gwendolyn Knight and Jacob Lawrence Prize, which recognizes emerging African American artists who have been producing work for less than ten years. Perry will receive $10,000 and a solo exhibition at the museum in the fall of 2017.

Perry is the first video artist to be awarded the prize. Perry’s work explores abstraction and representation through video and computer-based media installations and performance. She often uses video production tools like blue screens and chroma keys, 3D avatars and computer graphics software, workplace wellness tools, and media publicly shared on the internet to question constructions of representation and propose different ways of seeing.

“Sondra’s work is at once subversively witty, concretely inventive, and above all, timely,” Sandra Jackson-Dumont, the chair of education at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and SAM’s former deputy director for education and public programs, said. “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.”

A New Jersey-based artist, Perry has already made a mark in Seattle. Her video Double Quadruple Etcetera Etcetera opened SAM’s exhibition Disguise: Masks and Global African Art (June 18–September 7, 2015). The exhibition then traveled to the Fowler Museum at UCLA (October 18, 2015–March 13, 2016) and the Brooklyn Museum (April 29–September 18, 2016). In addition, Perry’s first solo show, Some Type Of Way, was held at independent gallery INCA in Seattle (October 30–November 19, 2015); her first institutional solo show, Resident Evil, recently appeared at The Kitchen in New York, NY (November 2–December 10, 2016). Perry’s fall 2017 solo exhibition at SAM will be curated by Sandra JacksonDumont, Frederick P. and Sandra P. Rose Chairman of Education at the 2 Metropolitan Museum of Art and SAM’s former Deputy Director for Education and Public Programs/Adjunct Curator in Modern and Contemporary Art.

The Gwendolyn Knight and Jacob Lawrence Prize was established to honor the legacy of the two artists and to support young African American artists. Previous award winners include Theaster Gates, Titus Kaphar, LaToya Ruby Frazier, and Brenna Youngblood.