Sally Awards Gets a New Look

Tommy Sar, Ordway 10/29/19

We are excited to reveal the new one-of-a-kind awards for this year’s 27th annual Sally Awards! Each recipient will receive a handmade bronze and aluminum award on Monday, Nov. 4, during the 27th annual Sally Awards ceremony, which will be held at the Ordway.

Sara Hanson, Tommy Sar, and Dulce with the new awards

The Sally Awards recognizes and celebrates the impacts and accomplishments of artists, educators, volunteers, philanthropists, and leaders who strengthen and enrich the arts community of Minnesota. Recipients are selected each year by a committee based on nominations submitted by the arts community. This year, the spirit of community-driven recognition was enhanced by creating new awards with an independent artist and community involvement.

Ordway staff sought out the talented Sara Hanson of to design and create the new awards. There are five categories and Sara created a different award for each recipient as well as a sixth as a commemorative piece for the Ordway. The concept was to incorporate the starburst seen in the last few Sally Awards as it represented raw creation of art and the shining luminance of using art as a means of expression, storytelling, and enlightenment.

Sara explains the starburst concept


Past Sally Awards recipients and members of the arts community took part in shaping the design of the awards through a public workshop. Participants created custom mold imprints that were used to cast the base of each awards and each person was encouraged to create designs however they like as a tribute to this year’s recipients. The results were a collection of beautifully designed molds made with care.  Sara then incorporated those designs into the base of each award.

Participants created unique designs for the mold
A close up of one of the creative designs made

As Ordway’s Coordinator of Community Programs, I am one of the people leading the Sally Awards program. I visited Sara at her workshop to see firsthand how she made the awards. I even got to contribute by pouring molten bronze into the molds and breaking the mold! Each bronze starburst was then treated with different solutions to give them a patina that resembled corals. The bronze starburst itself was originally conceived to be surrounded by a globe aluminum lattice connecting each point.

Sara showing the mold for the bases

Sara explained that she had to create a totally new process to create the bronze starburst encapsulated in an aluminum shell. An aluminum lattice would be too difficult to create properly, she said, so she chipped at the aluminum casing to create the dramatic holes seen in the final product. This created a more meteoric appearance, lending to both an aquatic and celestial feel, suggesting the diverse expanse and reach of art from sea to space. Together with the custom bronze base, each award is truly unique with a very organic appearance despite being made of metal.

A close up of the starburst

We hope the recipients appreciate the awards and the effort made into it from the community and from Sara. All are invited to join the celebration at the 27th annual Sally Awards ceremony on Monday, November 4, 2019. The evening is free and children are welcome! Be sure to RSVP at

One response to “Sally Awards Gets a New Look

  1. Congratulations Sara on a job well done! Beautiful work! Such talent! Thanks for sharing your artistic abilities with the state of MN! They are so lucky to have you!!
    monica and barry eske!

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