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Past Exhibitions

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Sondra Perry: Eclogue for [in]HABITABILITY

Dec 8 2017 – Jul 8 2018

Seattle Art Museum

Third Floor Galleries

Sondra Perry’s Eclogue for [in]HABITABILITY is the second in a series of installations that the artist presents as visual eclogues—or short pastoral poems—about real and virtual landscapes. The series will reflect Perry’s holistic investigation of race, class, abstraction, and representation through the use of video and computer-based media installations and performances. She uses these technologies because “digital space allows for the abstractions of identity to happen, and it allows one to build digitally what one cannot build in reality.”

Eclogue for [in]HABITABILITY uses layers of images gleaned from a host of sources, including the artist’s own archive, drones, and the internet. Perry locates her mixed-media installation in the imaginative qualities of science fiction, the racialization of digital and actual spaces, and the growing interest in the democratization of technology.

Highlighting the precarious relationship between people and place, the installation addresses the human body through four lenses: nature, labor, manufacturing, and urban planning. The video projections are representations of landscapes and land use that can be read as stand-ins for racialized bodies. The abstraction of human skin becomes a realistic depiction of a mountain range. The sculptural element in the middle of the gallery is a refurbished backhoe, a reference to humankind’s continued transformation of land and landscape and a comment on the unintended consequences often associated with claims of eminent domain, gentrification, and stewardship.

Sondra Perry was born in 1986 in Perth Amboy, New Jersey, and lives and works in her hometown. She received her BFA from Alfred University and her MFA from Columbia University.

Sondra Perry: Eclogue for [in]HABITABILITY is organized by Sandra Jackson-Dumont, independent curator and SAM’s former Deputy Director for Education and Public Programs / Adjunct Curator in Modern and Contemporary Art.

SAM’s Gwendolyn Knight | Jacob Lawrence Prize is awarded biannually to an early-career black artist who has been producing work for less than 10 years. The prize was created to provide inspiration for young black artists. Nominations are requested from an anonymous roster of distinguished and celebrated artists, curators, and cultural producers who have their fingers on the pulse of contemporary black artistic practice. Funding for the prize and exhibition is provided by the Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence and Jacob Lawrence Endowment and generous support from the Jacob and Gwendolyn Lawrence Foundation.

The Gwendolyn Knight | Jacob Lawrence Gallery honors the legacy of these two renowned artists, their contributions to the artistic landscape, and their support of SAM. The gallery features installations that highlight the work of the Lawrences, contemporary artists of color, and artists sharing the Lawrences’ interests, aesthetic values, and creative practices.

Image: Installation view of Eclogue for [in]HABITABILITY at Seattle Art Museum, 2017, photo: Natali Wiseman.

Seattle Art Museum respectfully acknowledges that we are on Indigenous land, the traditional territories of the Coast Salish people. We honor our ongoing connection to these communities past, present, and future.

Learn more about Equity at SAM