In memoriam: Sally Sasz ’21, written by Tonya Turner Carroll ’89
The following piece was written by Tonya Turner Carroll ’89, owner of the Turner Carroll Gallery + Art Advisors in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Sally Sasz ’21, who passed away on Monday, July 6, worked with Tonya at the gallery in the summers of 2019 and 2020.
When human beings are lucky enough to encounter someone who stands out as a shining star, helping us see the excitement and freshness in every single moment, we must hold them in our hearts as a precious gift. Sally Sasz was that incredibly special gift of a person. Not just for me, but I am confident in stating she was that person for everyone who knew her.
With eyes as big as her heart, Sally absorbed the world with every element of her being. She noticed everything, and her inquisitiveness fueled her determination to uncover every aspect of her interests.
I had the great pleasure of working with Sally at Turner Carroll Gallery in Santa Fe for not the customary one summer of her Morehead-Cain experience, but for two. When she arrived in Santa Fe to work with us the first summer, it was clear there was something different and brilliant and special about her. It wasn’t just her optimistic, self-assured personality; it was clear she was following a path she was paving with her passions as she moved through her life. Sally saw how art could change the world, and in her lifetime, she actually did that.
Sally wrote the definitive exhibition essay and designed the catalog for Chinese artist Hung Liu’s museum exhibition during her first summer at the gallery. Five hundred of her catalogs were proudly distributed by The Grace Museum in Texas during Hung Liu’s solo exhibition. Not one to leave it at researching and learning about an artist second-hand, Sally decided she needed to go to Oakland, California and meet the artist in person in order to complete her experience.
She actually volunteered to go help a shipper pack Hung Liu’s painting for transport from Oakland, in order to get a better understanding of the artist and her studio practice. And it didn’t stop there! Sally went on to create a museum exhibition proposal for the Ackland Art Museum at UNC, which holds Hung Liu’s works in its collection, and where Hung Liu’s former graduate student—Lien Truong—is a professor of art. She saw the influence one minority artist could have upon another who was her student, and she wanted to bring that kind of empowerment into public view.
During Sally’s second summer with the gallery, she wrote the essay for a Hung Liu exhibition catalog for a second museum on the tour. It was incredible to see how much she had expanded her insights about the artist. She nailed it. No revisions requested. With that, Sally had found her place as an authority in the art world. She went on to work on projects for an exhibition curated by one of the greatest icons of art history—Judy Chicago.
Sally wrote the exhibition catalog essay for the international exhibition Solstice: Create Art For Earth, curated by Judy Chicago and Turner Carroll Gallery, in conjunction with an initiative by the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Serpentine Galleries, Jane Fonda, and Green Peace. She also worked with Chicago to produce and distribute pandemic face coverings Chicago had designed. She spent time in Dallas, researching valuations for a top contemporary art collection including Cy Twombly, Christo, Frank Stella, Philip Guston, and Jackson Pollock—while living amongst those artworks. And to round it all out, she returned to Oakland to visit Hung Liu and take one of her most significant works to a major collector in Oregon.
Everywhere she went, Sally touched the lives of the coworkers, friends, artists, and collectors she met. She made an impact to such a great extent, that the gallery received emails about her generosity of spirit and her professionalism.
All of us at Turner Carroll were looking forward to having Sally become part of our gallery family, working with us after her graduation from UNC. It is hard to fathom that Sally is not here with us in person, but her essays, her place in our hearts and those of the artists and collectors she touched, are now part of the record of the history of art. I know for sure she is proud of that and I am so profoundly proud of her, as well.