Jade Kuriki Olivo, an artist who works under the moniker Puppies Puppies, has won Toby’s Prize, a biennial award given out by the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland in Ohio.
In the past, the award came with $50,000, $25,000 of which went toward a new commission by the museum. The museum’s announcement did not state how much money Puppies had won, however, and a representative for the institution said that the artist had requested that the amount not be listed.
Named after Toby Devan Lewis, a philanthropist who has provided frequent funding the museum over the years, the award is set to go to five artists over the course of a decade. Puppies Puppies is the second artist to receive the award, after Sondra Perry, who won it in 2019.
Puppies Puppies’s work has tended toward sculptures and has dealt with a vast array of topics, including gun violence, SpongeBob SquarePants, and her own blood. Pervading all these projects was an arch, sly sensibility coupled with a genuine interest in pressing social issues. Appropriation of ready-made objects and footage has shown up frequently in her work, and occasionally, performance has played a role.
Since her transition in 2018, Puppies Puppies has dealt head-on with her identity as a mixed trans woman, and her work has increasingly begun to ponder the realities of being a queer person of color. She has also teased a change soon to come in her art. A 2021 exhibition at the Kunsthaus Glarus in Switzerland bore a lengthy title that concluded with: “Trying not to let my trauma take over but still be kind to yourself Jade. This is the end of a decade • a new way of working coming soon. Sincerely, Jade Kuriki Olivo.”
For her MOCA Cleveland exhibition, Puppies Puppies will bring on two artists to show their work: Jerome AB and Jesse Hoffman. Both are set to present new art as part of the show.
Megan Lykins, the interim executive director of MOCA Cleveland, said in a statement, “We are thrilled to be working with Jade, Jerome, and Jesse on these new, exciting projects, which beautifully address moCa’s current seasonal essential question (which guides our engagement strategies and programmatic work): what does it mean to share?”