Press Release Center

Christopher Paul Jordan and Che Sehyun Receive Neddy Artist Award

SEATTLE – National Juror Claire Tancons has selected Washington state artists Christopher Paul Jordan and Che Sehyun as the recipients of this year’sNeddy Artist Awards, each of whom will receive an unrestricted grant of $25,000. In her summary of her selections, Tancons pointed that Jordan in painting and Sehyun in open medium bring a “multicultural savvy” to their work through a deep connection to their heritage and the youth in their communities.

“Both Chris Jordan and Che Sehyun, in their respective categories of Painting and Open Medium, are streaming cultural data from repurposed diasporic memories capable of emitting heretofore unfelt frequencies in their work and into the communities they form and foster through strong translocal networks,” she said after reviewing the artists’ work in their studios.

“Tacoma-born-and-raised Chris Jordan puts painting through the cipher of cell phones to bring digital literacy to bear upon racial perception while also maintaining a practice of graffiti as analog technology, using this uniquely American calligraphy to disseminate a literary vernacular in public space,” said Tancons.

“Che Sehyun shapes live and recorded performances as a mode of public address directed as much to immediate relatives as to the extended family of youths he inspires and nurtures, producing a soft brand of conscious hip hop in the process,” Tancons continued. “Awarding the Neddy to these artists is an early recognition of artistic talent honed through multicultural savvy as well as an investment into promising futures with repercussions both within and beyond Seattle.” 

Claire Tancons has been curating internationally for over a decade with emerging and established contemporary art biennials including Prospect.1 New Orleans, the 7th Gwangju Biennial, the second Cape Town Biennial and the 7th Göteborg Biennial as well as for a host of other art institutions ranging from Contemporary Arts Center New Orleans and Faena Art Miami Beach and Tate Modern. She has been especially invested in charting other arthistorical genealogies of, and curatorial methodologies for, performance practice about which she has lectured and published extensively. She is the recipient of a 2012 Emily Hall Tremaine Exhibition Award among other curatorial and research awards from the Prince Claus Fund, the Foundation for Arts Initiatives and the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and was named one of 20 most influential young curators in the United States by Artsy in 2016. In 2017, in addition to the Neddy Artist Awards, she was a juror for several other visual arts awards including the 3Arts Awards and the Herb Alpert Award.

Since 2011, Cornish College of the Arts has stewarded the Neddy Artist Awards, started in 1996 as a tribute to the life and work of Ned Behnke. Each year in September, two $25,000 unrestricted awards are given — one in painting and one in any medium or combination of media grounded in the visual arts — to artists living and working in the greater Puget Sound region. Six finalists receive $1,500. 

The 2017 Painting finalists are Barbara Sternberger, Gillian Theobald, and Tuan Nguyen.

The 2017 Open Medium finalists are Gretchen Bennett, Marita Dingus, and Dakota Gearhart.

More About 2017 Neddy Artist Award Winners

Christopher Paul Jordan works with social media, public murals, and community organizing in an artistic practice that aims to reach a wide cross-cultural audience. He has completed murals locally and internationally in Trinidad and Tobago, Taiwan, and Tacoma through commissions ranging from 100 to 4,000 square feet. His collaborative exhibition #COLORED2017 presented by the Breaker Gallery, Tacoma, including work by Black artists and poets from the United States and Caribbean featured an interior mural employing mediated reality. In 2016 his work was featured in “Out of Sight” at King Street Station, “Echo Echo” at The Alice, and “Northwest Art Now” at the Tacoma Art Museum. Jordan recently received an Olympic Park Summer Project Commission for Seattle Art Museum, and is the recipient of an invitational artist residency at the Tacoma Museum of Glass. As co-director of the arts organization/drop-in center Fab 5, he helps empower young people as creative leaders. Jordan studied at the Tacoma School of the Arts and Pacific Lutheran University.

Of Korean descent, Che Sehyun is a self-taught musician, filmmaker, and photographer. He is currently working on the G’ma Project, a multi-cultural and -generational community movement to honor our elders (our “g’mas” or grandmothers) and raise awareness of indigenous ancestry and culture—“the mind before time” as he puts it in his lyrics—through contemporary media such as music video, rap, and break dancing. The project includes a G’ma music video/documentary as well as the G’ma Project Mixtape (gmaproject.com). Che is also the founder of a youth arts non-profit called Experience Education, which offers area youth arts and cultural based education, experiences and life skills. The recipient of a 2016 Artist Trust Fellowship and grants from 4 Culture and the City of Seattle, Che graduated from the University of Washington in 2011 with a B.A., B.A., and B.S. in English, Comparative History of Ideas, and Physiology.

About Ned Behnke

The Neddy Artist Awards honor the legacy of Seattle painter and teacher Ned Behnke (1948-1989). Ned was the son of Robert and Sally Skinner Behnke. Deaf from birth, Ned Behnke expressed himself in the visual arts from an early age. He received his Bachelor of Arts Degree from Central Washington University, and his Master’s Degree in Fine Arts, Painting, from the Rochester Institute of Technology, New York. He lived and worked in Seattle, where he taught art to hearing-impaired students at Cornish College of the Arts and other institutions.

During his life, Ned Behnke received many national arts awards including a major public art commission by the King County Arts Commission for the Seattle Hearing and Deafness Center. He exhibited his art widely and was represented by Foster/White Gallery in Seattle. Ned Behnke died in 1989.

His legacy is in evidence throughout our community through the generous philanthropy of the Behnke family. The Northwest AIDS Foundation (now the LIFELONG AIDS Alliance) created the Ned Behnke Leadership Award in 1993. The Ned Behnke Preschool, Hearing, Speech and Deafness Center was founded in 2007 with an emphasis on speech, language, and literacy development.