Off the Wall: Sondra Perry
Sondra Perry (b.1986, Perth Amboy, New Jersey) addresses concepts of Blackness, productivity and labor, often combining her personal experiences as an African American with fictional narratives on how digital technologies contribute to the definition of identity.
For the second iteration of Rice Public Art’s Off the Wall series, Perry created Ocean Modifier (2020), a large-scale site-specific installation that ruminates on the repetition of history and the future of ecology. For Perry, the past and present are inextricably linked and reflect humankind’s desire for progress, as well as the refusal to accept change even in the face of existential threats like climate change.
Ocean Modifier spans the length of the south wall of the Brochstein Pavilion, addressing viewers with an encompassing and cinematic experience. The title of the work references a computer program that digitally simulates the color and appearance of water. Perry uses this program to create a monumental image of a murky seascape. She then intersperses the rippling brown waves with an altered lenticular image of J. M. W. Turner’s renowned painting Slave Ship (Slavers Throwing Overboard the Dead and Dying, Typhoon Coming On) (1840). Turner’s painting, depicting an incident in which the captain of the British ship Zong killed over one hundred-thirty African slaves in 1781 to claim insurance money, serves to highlight the legacy of brutality that Western culture continues to inflect upon Black bodies. The kinetic, shifting effect of the lenticular panels suggests a malleable perspective of history and the prospect of an ever-changing future.
Rice Public Art’s Off the Wall series commissions a site-specific installation by a recent alumnus or alumna of the Core Residency Program at the Glassell School of Art. Each installation is on view for one year on the south wall of the Raymond and Susan Brochstein Pavilion, a modern structure designed by Thomas Phifer and Partners that houses a popular campus café. A new commission will be featured each year for three years.
Off the Wall: Sondra Perry is organized by Ylinka Barotto, Associate Curator, Moody Center for the Arts.
This program is made possible by Raymond and Susan Brochstein, Deborah Brochstein and Steven Hecht.
On November 19, 2020, at 12:30pm Sondra Perry will participate in the Visiting Artist Lecture Series organized by the Rice’s Visual and Dramatic Arts Department (VADA) and the Center for African and African American Studies (CAAAS) in collaboration with the Moody Center for the Arts.
About the Artist
Sondra Perry (b.1986, Perth Amboy, New Jersey) received a BFA from the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University in 2012 and an MFA from Columbia University in 2015. Perry attended the Core Program, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston in 2015–2017.
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). Her work has been featured in numerous group exhibitions including Manual Override, The Shed, New York (2019–20); New Order: Art and Technology in the Twenty-First Century, Museum of Modern Art, New York (2019); Art in the Age of the Internet 1989 to Today, Institute of Contemporary Art Boston, Boston, Massachusetts (2018); Trigger: Gender as a Tool and a Weapon, New Museum, New York ( 2017–18); and Greater New York, MoMA PS1, Long Island City, New York (2015), 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). Perry was the recipient of the 2018 Nam June Paik Award. She lives and works in Perth Amboy, New Jersey.