Carolyn Sortor Named Moss/Chumley Award Winner


Dallas, TX—April 3, 2019—The Meadows Museum at SMU announces that Carolyn Sortor has won the 2018 Moss/Chumley North Texas Artist Award. The award is given annually to an outstanding North Texas artist who has exhibited professionally for at least ten years and has established a proven track record as a community advocate for the visual arts. The award will be presented at a private reception at the museum on April 25. A work by Sortor will be installed in the museum’s galleries for approximately one month this fall to coincide with a talk by the artist on November 7, 2019; visit the museum’s calendar this summer for further details.

In her media-based practice, Sortor explores the intricate and complicit nature of social, economic, and political systems. Among the themes that emerge from these investigations are issues of identity, migration, borders, and boundaries. Working primarily in video, her work is a timely engagement with how we consume information in today’s society. Sortor also takes inspiration from Nicolas Bourriaud’s text Relational Aesthetics (1998), and incorporates relational strategies, as well as curation, into her practice.

Joan Davidow, co-founder of Dallas art space SITE131, director emerita of the Dallas Contemporary, and member of the jury said, “Sortor turned her back on a successful law career to follow her dream to make art. She then worked as a dedicated creator, developing her audio-visual signature pieces. With great appreciation for her focused, fine-tuned efforts, the jury proudly named her the 2018 Moss/Chumley awardee.”

With a background in commercial law, Sortor’s interests as an artist can be traced to her early pro bono work for several local arts organizations, including her time spent serving on the board of the Video Association of Dallas (VAD), which she chaired from 1996–98. Under her leadership, the VAD board tripled in size, the organization began offering memberships for the first time, and sufficient funds were raised to hire the first managing director. In the early 2000s, Sortor became increasingly committed to creative endeavors, both making her own art and curating the work of others; she also began advocating for the acceptance of video as a true fine art medium in North Texas. Sortor officially retired from her law practice in 2014 in order to devote herself fully to her artistic practice.

“I’m thrilled and honored to join the list of recipients of this award, which includes so many artists I’ve been inspired by; and I’m deeply grateful for the philanthropy of Frank Moss and Jim Chumley and to the Meadows Museum for its work in administering this award and in general,” Sortor said. “I’d also like to thank our larger art community, because so many wonderful artists, art professionals, and others have helped me through the years by providing encouragement and sharing their expertise, affording me opportunities, and in many cases by contributing their own efforts and creativity.”

Sortor holds a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from the University of Rochester and a J.D. from SMU. She also holds a B.F.A. purchased from Ben Britt in 2004, and is working toward an artificial M.F.A., pursuits that reveal her artistic interest in self-education and self-credentialing. Her work has been shown in Dallas, Houston, Albuquerque, San Francisco, New York, and elsewhere, at venues including the Dallas Museum of Art, the Nasher Sculpture Center, and the Contemporary Art Museum of Houston. Sortor’s recent video and audio work includes Brise Soleil (2016), a collaborative audio work performed at Pollock Gallery, SMU, in conjunction with the New Cities, Future Ruins conference; Thinker (2016), which won first prize in the Extremely Shorts festival at Aurora Picture Show, Houston; andPlied Pipes (2017), which D Magazine highlighted as a top pick for the 2018 Dallas Art Fair weekend.

Shelley DeMaria, curatorial assistant for the Meadows Museum and chair of the jury stated, “Through her focused drive to advance the medium of video in North Texas, Sortor has become a vital part of the artistic community. With unabated commitment, dedication, and passion over the course of twenty years of active work, Sortor’s contributions epitomize the spirit of the Moss/Chumley Award.”

The Moss/Chumley Award was founded to recognize not only talented artists living in North Texas, but also to acknowledge those who have proven track records as community advocates for the arts. Sortor’s dedication to projects that strive both to bring the medium of video to Dallas and to involve the greater community speaks to this pertinent aspect of the award. These notable projects include, among many others, Sortor’s organization and co-curation of The Program (2008), a presentation of more than 50 video and new media works by over 40 internationally recognized artists; her involvement in the inaugural Expanded Cinema (2012), a video program displayed on the 193’ x 999’ LED screen on the Dallas Omni Hotel, for which she formulated the template and coordinated the participating artists; and her development of the OccuLibrary (2011–15), a multifaceted and collaborative initiative to create “reincarnations” of the libraries destroyed during the eviction of camps during the Occupy movement. The physical library component of Sortor’s OccuLibrary is now permanently installed at the MAC, Dallas.

Brian Scott, artist, technical facilities manager at the School of Arts and Performance at UT Dallas, and member of the jury said of Sortor, “She has worked long, hard, and selflessly to make art that is inclusive and informative, and to empower and motivate positive individuals to take collective action. Her work is an illustration of how a healthy democracy should function.” He added, “Congratulations, Carolyn, you have earned this long overdue honor.”

The jury for the 2018 Moss/Chumley award included Davidow, DeMaria, and Scott, as noted above; Leigh Arnold, assistant curator, Nasher Sculpture Center; Amanda Dotseth, curator, Meadows Museum; David Leggett, photographer and deputy director, development, TACA; and Giovanni Valderas, assistant director, Kirk Hopper Fine Art, and 2017 Moss/Chumley recipient.

Moss/Chumley Memorial Fund and Artist Award

The Moss/Chumley Memorial Fund was created in 1989 by Frank Moss and the Meadows Museum as a tribute to Jim Chumley; Moss’s name was added to the fund upon his death in 1991. Moss and Chumley were two Dallas art dealers who made outstanding contributions to the visual arts in North Texas during the 1980s. The pair operated the Nimbus Gallery on Routh Street from 1980 to 1987 and the Moss/Chumley Gallery at the Crescent Court from 1986 to 1989, where they showcased numerous new artists.

Established in 1995, the Moss/Chumley Artist Award is given in their memory.  The award—which carries a cash prize of $2,500—is open to artists working in any medium who live in one of the eleven North Texas counties: Collin, Dallas, Denton, Ellis, Hunt, Johnson, Kaufman, Parker, Rockwall, Tarrant, and Wise.

Past recipients include Giovanni Valderas, Sedrick Huckaby, Annette Lawrence, Darryl Lauster, Christopher Blay, Stephen Lapthisophon, Frances Bagley, Isabelle du Toit, Juliette McCullough, David McCullough, Noah Simblist, Catherine Chauvin, Ludwig Schwarz, Janet Tyson, David Dreyer, Marie Van Arsdale, Sherry Owens, Kaleta Doolin, David Hickman, Tracy Hicks, Mary Vernon, Marilyn Waligore, Susan Kae Grant, and Bob Nunn.

About the Meadows Museum

The Meadows Museum is the leading U.S. institution focused on the study and presentation of the art of Spain. In 1962, Dallas businessman and philanthropist Algur H. Meadows donated his private collection of Spanish paintings, as well as funds to start a museum, to SMU. The museum opened to the public in 1965, marking the first step in fulfilling Meadows’s vision to create “a small Prado for Texas.” Today, the Meadows is home to one of the largest and most comprehensive collections of Spanish art outside of Spain. The collection spans from the 10th to the 21st centuries and includes medieval objects, Renaissance and Baroque sculptures, and major paintings by Golden Age and modern masters.