Professor Marta Kuzma, Dean of the Yale School of Art, announces the appointment of Sondra Perry as the 2021 Presidential Visiting Fellow in Fine Arts, noting, “Any artist whose practice draws from contemporary systems of technology sources from a system coded by inequity. Sondra Perry’s work makes that system of inequity explicit through addressing Blackness, Black feminism, productivity, labor, and the African diaspora, and drawing from personal experience to express the subliminal ways in which digital technologies shape dominant tropes around identities and the ethical problematics implicit within those evolving systems.”
As Presidential Visiting Fellow at the Yale School of Art, Sondra Perry is appointed within the department of Photography, with an extended engagement among each of the School’s departments with respect to interdisciplinary research and studio work. Professor Gregory Crewdson, Director of Graduate Studies in Photography, who has in recent years engaged Perry as an educator within Photography added, “I’m very excited that we’ll be able to have Sondra on our faculty full time for the coming year. As an artist she pushes the fundamentals of the medium itself and redefines what’s possible in photography, and she brings this sensibility to her practice as an educator and mentor as well. She adds a dynamic presence and strong voice to the program.“ Perry refers to digital tools and material, ranging from 3D avatars to found footage from the internet, to reflect on these modes of representation and the abstraction of Black identity in art and media. Perry has said, “I’m interested in thinking about how blackness shifts, morphs, and embodies technology to combat oppression and surveillance throughout the diaspora. Blackness is agile.”
Perry’s designation as a Presidential Visiting Fellow at the School of Art reflects the School’s endeavor to broaden its established commitment to image making with respect to evolving technologies, social media, and race. As an artist, Perry’s commitment to net neutrality and ideas of collective production and action involves using open-source software to edit work and leasing it digitally for use in galleries and classrooms, while also making videos available for free online. Perry’s approach has an ethical dimension in that it adheres to the principle of open access, and in doing so, Perry aims to privilege Black life, to democratize access to art and culture, and to offer a critical platform that differentiates itself from the portrayal of Blackness in the media.
Perry’s artist practice has been noted with excellence both nationally and internationally – particularly for the perspective it provides the convergence of Black Studies, Art, and Technology. Perry has been awarded a Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Grant, the Gwendolyn Knight and Jacob Lawrence Prize, and the Worldstudio AIGA Scholarship. She is the recipient of the first MOCA Cleveland’s Toby’s Prize, and the 2018 Nam June Paik Award from the Kunststiftung NRW Arts Foundation. Perry has also participated in residencies at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Vermont Studio Center, Ox-bow, and the Experimental Television Center.
Sondra Perry received an MFA from Columbia University and a BFA from Alfred University. Perry has had solo exhibitions at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Cleveland, Ohio (2019); Serpentine Gallery, London (2018); Seattle Art Museum, Seattle (2017–18); and the Kitchen, New York (2016). She has participated in numerous group exhibitions at venues including the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts, Cambridge, Massachusetts (2017); Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (2017); The New Museum, New York (2017); Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, New York (2016); The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York (2015); and MoMA PS1, Long Island City, New York (2015). Spanning the last five years, Perry has screened her videos and presented talks at institutions including the Vera List Center at The New School, The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, and The Artists’s Institute, New York, among others. Perry’s work was exhibited in the 10th Berlin Biennial for Contemporary Art, and the Biennial of Contemporary Art, Rennes, France (both 2018).
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