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Puppies Puppies Wins MoCA Clevaland’s Toby’s Award

Artist Puppies Puppies has won the Toby’s Award, given every two years by the Museum of Contemporary Art in Cleveland, Ohio.

Jade Kuriki Olivo, who goes by her artist name Puppies Puppies, is a multi-faceted artist with a special focus on sculptures. Olivo is known for the range of diverse topics found in her art, from gun violence and queer identity to SpongeBob SquarePants and blood. In recent years, Olivo has come into prominence due to her changing artistic styles. Her recent works showcase regular objects and public footage re-imagined into works of art. In 2018, Puppies Puppies went through a gender transition and began exploring her new identity as a trans-Black woman. According to her, the transition was also visible in her artistic sensibilities. In the 2021 Kunsthaus Glarus in Switzerland, she hinted at a major upcoming sift in her art style.

The Toby’s Award is named after Toby Devan Lewis, who had donated funds to MoCA Cleveland for many years. The award is given every two years, with the aim of helping five artists in a decade. The first award was given in 2019 to Sondra Perry, with Olivo being the second recipient. Last time, the award carried a sum of $50,000 – half of which would go towards the work commissioned by the museum. However, the amount of this year hasn’t been disclosed, reportedly at the request of Olivo.

For her commissioned exhibition at MoCA Cleveland, Puppies Puppies will bring two artists onboard: Jerome AB and Jesse Hoffman. Both artists are supposed to present new works at the exhibition. Megan Lykins (Interim Executive Director, MoCA Cleavland), said: “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: what does it mean to share?”