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Sondra Perry Wins MOCA Cleveland’s Inaugural $50,000 Toby’s Prize

The Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland has named Sondra Perry the inaugural recipient of its Toby’s Prize, a biennial award named after philanthropist Toby Devan Lewis, one of the institution’s founding board members. She will receive a total of $50,000—a $25,000 cash prize and $25,000 for the commission of a new work.

“Toby’s deep and abiding belief in the humanizing impulse of art is now more relevant than ever and will serve to enrich the MOCA community over the next decade,” said Jill Snyder, MOCA’s executive director. “I cannot think of a more relevant and compelling artist working today, than Sondra Perry, to inaugurate this impactful prize.”

Perry lives and works in her hometown of Perth Amboy, New Jersey, and is best known for her video and performance works that foreground the tools of digital production in order to critically reflect on new technologies of representation. Among her recent solo exhibitions are “Resident Evil” (2016) at the Kitchen in New York and “Typhoon Coming On” (2018) at the Serpentine Galleries in London. An exhibition of Perry’s work will open at MOCA in April 2019, coinciding with the museum’s fiftieth anniversary.

Members of the prize’s jury included Adrienne Edwards, curator of performance at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York; Laura Hoptman, curator of contemporary art in the department of painting and sculpture at the Museum of Modern Art in New York; Clara Kim, senior curator of international art (Africa, Asia, and the Middle East) at Tate Modern in London; Hamza Walker, executive director of LAXART; and Andria Hickey, senior curator at MOCA Cleveland.

“Over a relatively short period of time, Sondra Perry’s artistic voice, incisive and multivalent, has become a vital one in the contemporary conversation,” Hoptman said in a statement. “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.”