The Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland has named Sondra Perry as the first winner of Toby’s Prize, which was established with a gift from the collector Toby Devan Lewis. The reward amounts to $50,000, with $25,000 to go toward a new commission and $25,000 in cash. New work produced by Perry will go on view at the Ohio museum in April 2019.
Perry, who is based in Perth Amboy, New Jersey, has become well known for her video installations involving avatars, digital bodies, and exploitation. Of particular concern in her work is the role that race plays on the internet. For a recent installation at Bridget Donahue gallery in New York, Perry explored how her brother’s image was appropriated by a video game developer in work that considered cultural appropriation online and off.
In the past few years, Perry’s work had various solo shows at such venues as the Kitchen in New York and the Serpentine Galleries in London. Her work was included in the 2015 edition of MoMA PS1’s “Greater New York” quinquennial and the New Museum survey “Trigger: Gender as a Tool and a Weapon,” and she was the 2017 winner of the Seattle Art Museum’s Gwendolyn Knight and Jacob Lawrence Prize.
In a statement, Laura Hoptman, a curator of contemporary art in the Museum of Modern Art’s painting and sculpture department who served on the prize’s jury, said, “Over a relatively short period of time, Sondra Perry’s artistic voice, incisive and multivalent, has become a vital one in the contemporary conversation. Toby’s Prize, inaugurated to support innovation and brilliance in new art, recognizes Perry’s past achievements in the mediums of digital art and sculpture, and more importantly, enables her unique vision to be realized in her much anticipated future projects.”
Hoptman’s fellow jury members included Adrienne Edwards, curator of performance at the Whitney Museum; Clara Kim, senior curator in Tate Modern’s international art department; Hamza Walker, the executive director of LAXART; and Andria Hickey, senior curator at MOCA who will soon begin as a curator at the Pace Gallery.