Neddy Artist Awards

Neddy Artist Awards Call to Artists FAQs

What are the Neddy Artist Awards?

Cornish College of the Arts prepares its students to contribute to society as artists, citizens and innovators. The Neddy Artist Awards are a beacon of this mission. The Neddy Artist Awards are among the largest awards for professional artists in the State of Washington, providing two annual gifts of $25,000, and six awards of $1,500, to artists living and working in the Puget Sound region.

The Neddy Artist Awards, established in 1996 by the Behnke family, honors the art, accomplishments and community involvement of Seattle painter and teacher Robert E. “Ned” Behnke (1948-1989). When stewardship of the awards program moved to Cornish College of the Arts in 2011, its impact was expanded and deepened—for Cornish students, the artist community, and the general public—with the addition of an accompanying series of lectures, programs and activities.

How are Neddy Artist Awardees selected?

AWARD CRITERIA: There are two Neddy Artist Awards each year. Recipients demonstrate artistic distinction through an established body of work and a commitment to their practice.

Ned Behnke embodied Cornish College of the Art’s mission of developing artists as citizens—individuals who create outstanding artwork with an applied consciousness of responsibility to society. As the awards honor Ned’s legacy, Neddy Artist Award recipients reflect and embody his belief in the power of art and artists to be positive forces in our world. The criteria for the awards are:

  • Demonstrated commitment to and ongoing development of one’s artistic vision
  • Demonstrated engagement with the world through art practice, broadly understood.
  • How do I apply for a Neddy Artist Award?

Applicants must fulfill the online application requirements (visit for details on image/file preparation and other submission information) by the application deadline. Applications sent by mail, submitted in person, or arriving late or incomplete will not be considered.

In what disciplines are the Neddy Artist Awards awarded?

The Neddy Artist Awards recognizes that artists today are working within, around, between and across disciplines. For the purposes of the Neddy Artist Awards selection process, artists are asked to apply in one award category that best represents their practice.

PAINTING: In honor of Ned Behnke and his passion for painting, one Neddy Artist Award celebrates artists who continue to innovate through this medium.

OPEN MEDIUM: Reflecting the ever-increasing possibilities in contemporary art practices, one Neddy Artist Award honors artists who work in any medium or combination of media grounded in the visual arts.

Who is eligible to receive a Neddy Artist Award?


  • U.S. citizens and full-time residents of Washington State, residing in the greater Puget Sound region (Island, Jefferson, King, Kitsap, Mason, Pierce, Skagit, San Juan, Snohomish, Thurston and Whatcom counties)
  • 18 years of age or older at the time of application
  • Currently active, demonstrating an ongoing pattern of 
producing and presenting work
  • Cornish College of the Arts full-time core and interim core faculty and trustees are ineligible.

Are previous Neddy Artist Award Finalists eligible to apply?

Previous recipients of the $25,000 awards are ineligible. Previous finalists are eligible to reapply.

Are students eligible to apply?

Students currently enrolled in either undergraduate or graduate degree programs at the 
time of application are ineligible. Those who have completed all degree requirements at the time of application, but have yet to matriculate may be eligible pending verification. Please contact Neddy Artist Awards program staff for more information.

Who selects the Neddy Artist Award Finalists and Awardees?

A panel of three regional arts professionals reviews all applications and selects four finalists in each category (PAINTING and OPEN MEDIUM). From this pool of eight artists, a single national juror from outside the region reviews each application packet and visits each artist studio, selecting one artist in each category to receive the $25,000 award.

When are the Neddy Artist Awards announced?


- April 17: Open call application deadline.
- June: Finalists announced.
- Late July: Studio visits with final selector.
- August: Announcement of awardees.
- Autumn: The Neddy Artist Awards Exhibition opens
- September -May: Artist programs developed and presented