About the Neddy at Cornish Awards

Stewarded by Cornish College of the Arts since 2011, the Neddy at Cornish is the most generous and longest-running award for visual artists in the State of Washington, providing two annual gifts of $25,000, and six awards of $2,000, to artists living and working in the Puget Sound region. Cornish College of the Arts prepares its students to contribute to society as artists, citizens and innovators. The Neddy at Cornish program is a beacon of this mission. In addition to the cash awards, all eight artists participate in an annual exhibition featuring their recent work as well as short documentary videos Cornish produces on each of the artists. The Neddy at Cornish awards is funded by the Behnke Foundation as a tribute to Seattle painter and teacher Ned Behnke (1948-1989).

For many years the Behnke family and the Behnke Foundation supported this gift of direct and unrestricted support to artists in the Pacific Northwest. It is currently supported by a bequest from the estate of philanthropist Sally Skinner Behnke, Ned’s mother. Cornish College of the Arts is honored to steward this awards program, on behalf of the family and the artist community. Cornish especially thanks Sally Skinner Behnke, in memoriam, for extending this vital program to Cornish as part of her legacy, continuing the investment of her grandmother in the founding of the College.

Apply here!

2019 Neddy at Cornish Curator: Juan Franco

Juan Franco (they/them/theirs) (b. 1991, Bogotá [Territorio Muisca]) is a visual and performance artist, community organizer, and arts educator. Franco is Co-Founder and Co-Director of festival:festival, a free and public visual and performing arts festival in Seattle. festival:festival presents and supports artists and cultural workers in Seattle. As an arts educator, Franco has worked at the nonprofit, Youth in Focus, where they empower urban youth through the language of analog photography and its history. In 2014, Franco received a BFA in Art from Cornish College of the Arts and will receive an MA in Art History from the University of Washington with a research focus in Contemporary Art and Curatorial Studies in June 2019. During their studies, they have served as Assistant Curator at the Jacob Lawrence Gallery under the direction of Emily Zimmerman, Director of the Gallery.

2019 Local Jury Panel

The Neddy at Cornish announces Juan Alonso-Rodrígues, Michelle Bufano, and S. Surface for the 2019 local jury panel.

Juan Alonso-Rodríguez

Cuban-born Juan Alonso-Rodríguez is a self-taught artist with a career spanning over three decades in Seattle. His work has been exhibited throughout the US and is included in the permanent collections of the Tacoma Art Museum, Portland Art Museum, Microsoft, Swedish & Harborview Hospitals and General Mills, among others. He has created public works for Century Link Field, Sea/Tac Airport, King County Housing Authority, Epiphany School, Sound Transit, Chief Sealth High School and Renton Technical College. His awards include a Seattle Mayor’s Arts Award, The Neddy Fellowship, DeJunius Hughes Award and the 2017 Conductive Garboil Grant. Juan is a Seattle Arts Commissioner and serves on the city’s Public Art Advisory Committee.

Website: juanalonsostudio.com

Michelle Bufano

As executive director of Chihuly Garden and Glass Michelle Bufano oversees the overall direction and operation of the exhibition. She brings more than 20 years of experience working in nonprofit organizations and has held leadership positions at Pratt Fine Arts Center, Museum of Glass and the Tacoma Art Museum during times of major grown and expansion.

Prior to joining the exhibition, Bufano served as Executive Director and Education Director, respectively, at Pratt Fine Arts Center. Bufano has been a consultant to nonprofit arts organizations and has served as an adjunct professor on these topics in the Museum Studies program at the University of Washington. In addition, she holds an M.A. in education from George Washington University.

S. Surface

S Surface is a Seattle-based curator of architecture, design and art, currently King Street Station Program Lead with the Seattle Office of Arts and Culture.

Surface earned the M.Arch from Yale School of Architecture and the BFA in Integrated Design (graphic design, photography, entrepreneurship) at Parsons School of Design. From 2016-2018 Surface was co-curator of The Alice, an artist-run exhibition space and writers’ residency, and Out Of Sight 2017, a regional survey of Pacific Northwest Artists. As Program Director at Design in Public, Surface organized the annual city-wide Seattle Design Festival and curated at the Center for Architecture & Design.

Surface has been a visiting critic at the University of Washington College of Built Environments, an architect with super-interesting; research coordinator and editor with C-LAB +Volume Architectural Journal + Network Architecture Lab at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation; and a teaching fellow in the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies department at Yale University. Surface served on the Seattle Arts Commission and on the board of Architects, Designers and Planners for Social Responsibility.

In 2014 Surface was an Artist in Residence at the Center for Photography at Woodstock, in 2016, a Next City Vanguard, and in 2017, was featured on the cover for City Arts Magazine’s Future List.

Surface’s writing, exhibitions, public programs, photography, and design have been published in​ The Architect’s Newspaper, Paprika, The Stranger, Hyperallergic, Vice, Architect,Next City, Capricious, PDN, and more.

2019 National Juror

The Neddy at Cornish announces Jessica Hong as the 2019 National Juror.

Jessica Hong is currently Associate Curator of Global Contemporary Art—the first to fill this position—at the Hood Museum of Art at Dartmouth College. Before joining the Hood, Hong was assistant curator at the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston, where she organized exhibitions including Arthur Jafa: Love Is the Message, the Message Is Death (2018) and the ICA’s presentation of We Wanted a Revolution: Black Radical Women, 1965–85 (2018). Prior to the ICA, she was part of the inaugural team of the Division of Modern and Contemporary Art that launched the renovated Harvard Art Museums. Hong was previously based in New York and held curatorial positions at Independent Curators International (ICI), SculptureCenter, and the Whitney Museum of American Art. She has written editorial pieces for BOMB Magazine, ICA/Boston, SculptureCenter publications, among others. Additionally, she served as ICI’s external evaluator for all curatorial programs, as visiting critic for Residency Unlimited (NY), and as a juror on numerous panels and fellowship programs. Hong received her M.A. in art history from the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, and B.A. in art history from Barnard College, Columbia University.

The Neddy at Cornish: Free Application

Applying for the Neddy is free and open to visual artists of all ages based in Island, Jefferson, King, Kitsap, Mason, Pierce, Skagit, San Juan, Snohomish, Thurston, or Whatcom counties who are permanent residents of the United States. The application requires 12-15 digital samples of artwork, answers to two brief questions, and an updated c.v.  

See the application guidelines for more information on eligibility and award process.

Awards Selection

The eight finalists are selected from the total pool of applicants by a group of three regional arts professionals, this year joined by Juan Alonso-Rodíguez, Michelle Bufano, and S. Surface. From this group of finalists a nationally-acclaimed contemporary art curator based outside the Puget Sound region selects the two Neddy at Cornish awards recipients after conducting studio visits with each of the finalists. The 2019 National Juror is Jessica Hong. 

Annual Neddy Artists Exhibition

In addition to cash awards, there is an annual Neddy at Cornish awards exhibition featuring work by both Awardees and Finalists. The Neddy at Cornish awards exhibition, a hallmark of the Cornish College of the Arts calendar, also provides a platform for various public programs and activities. 

Video Documentation

As part of the award program, a short documentary video is produced on each of the eight artists. Based on interviews with the artists, the videos provide important documentation for the Behnke Foundation, the Neddy at Cornish program, Cornish College of the Arts and its students, and the artists, along with scholars and arts writers.