Society Awards Pulls Back the Curtain on the Artistry of Awards Season

As the primetime Emmys draw near, Society Awards stages a first-of-its-kind exhibition that gives the design and craft behind the Golden Globes, Regional Emmys, and the CFDA Awards their own closeup.

Credit (all images): Heather Ison Photography for Society Awards

Most of us are familiar with the pop-culture spin of awards season: the media babble about who kissed or dissed who, and the subsequent blind items about eyebrow-raising afterparty antics. For those who prefer to focus more on the craft of it all, snaps of red carpet couture and the winners’ post-show selfies with their awards give precious, but little insight. A new exhibition at Charlotte’s Mint Museum offers an unprecedented close look at 167 trophies created by Society Awards with an emphasis on artistic collaborations and awards that recognize artisanship.

Society Awards founder David Moritz, who worked closely with Mint Museum staff to bring “Beyond the Red Carpet: Iconic Awards and Artistic Collaborations” to life, knows that visitors are unlikely to know the ins and outs of every award on view, but to him, that’s part of the exhibition’s purpose. “You might come in to see the Hollywood awards, but you’ll learn that the ‘famous’ awards are that industry’s top honors, and each industry has their own,” he says. Indeed, photography buffs will likely be enthused to see an example of the ICP Infinity Award on view, while scribes may delight in an up-close view of the Writers Guild of America trophy. Awards with more mass appeal, like the YouTube Creator commemorative plaques and MTV’s Moon Person, by contrast, can potentially appeal to a wider swath of visitors, but are no less special: the Moon Person on display was created in close collaboration with acclaimed painter Kehinde Wiley. 

Moritz teamed up with the Mint, North Carolina’s first art museum, after moving his company to Charlotte from New York City in 2020. The museum’s vast decorative arts collection focusing on the 21st century partly inspired the choice of location for the exhibition. “Some of our awards use museum-quality craft techniques: genuine lost wax bronze casting, careful hand craftsmanship, and limited editions of miniatures that are extraordinarily challenging to create,” he says. 

While the show represents one of the precious few moments the awards themselves are in the spotlight, instead of their recipients or presenters, Moritz views the show’s greatest strength as its capacity to surprise and delight. After all, where else can visitors see an Emmy and CFDA Award in the same room as, say, Chick-fil-A’s True Inspiration Award?

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