Advancement, Neddy at Cornish, Neighborhood News, Press releases

2020 Neddy at Cornish Finalists Announced

Local Jurors Priya Frank, Miguel Guillén, and Asia Tail Select the 2020 Finalists

Seattle– The eight finalists for this year’s Neddy at Cornish Award have been selected. The Neddy Award was begun in 1996 as a tribute to the life and work of Robert E. [Ned] Behnke and has been stewarded by Cornish College of the Arts since 2011. It is a free and open call application to artists living and working in the greater Puget Sound region. Of the eight 2020 finalists, two winners (to be announced in February 2021) will each receive $30,000 in unrestricted funds — an increased award for this year — and six runners-up will each receive $2,000. All eight artists will be featured in a much-anticipated exhibition at the University of Washington’s Jacob Lawrence Gallery in March 2021.

The 2020 finalists — four in painting and four in open media — were selected by three local jurors: Priya Frank, Miguel Guillén, and Asia Tail.

“I feel so excited and proud for the choices we made when selecting the eight finalists. All exceeded the criteria, and I was touched by the ways they express their talents in such profound and inspiring ways that allow us to see the beauty and humanity in art as a reflection of life. “ -Priya Frank

The Neddy at Cornish is very grateful to the panel of 2020 Local Jurors for their diligent and thoughtful reviews of all applications. We are excited to recognize and honor the following selection of artists as this year’s finalists, leading up to the grand-prize selection and art exhibition.

Images are available upon request.


Hanako O’Leary
My name is Hanako. I’m a craft based multimedia artist living on the ancestral land of the Coast Salish tribes and Dwamish people. I believe it is through my hands that the deepest secrets, oldest stories, and most potent magic of my ancestors are preserved.

I look to Japanese folk traditions and stories as a basis for my artwork and draw influence and power from my matriarchal lineage. I am one in a long line of Japanese women who dared to defy tradition and forge their own path. My grandmother, Hatsuko, was part of the first generation of Japanese women to graduate medical school. She built her own clinic and served as a first responder for those who survived the atomic bombing in Hiroshima. My mother, Sumiko, rejected an arranged marriage and left her small island town to pursue a career in Tokyo. Later, she would leave her lucrative career in television to marry my American father and start a new life with him in Wisconsin, where I was born. Raised in the arms of these women, I was instilled with deep pride for my Japanese roots and the will to pursue my dreams and speak my truth.

Kimisha Turner
Washington born and raised interdisciplinary artist, Kimisha Turner enjoys working in varying mediums and processes to execute her conceptual vision. She creates murals, art camps/workshops, sculptures, and performance art, connecting with her community while reflecting the times. Typically, there is a familiar thread of layers and beauty combined with challenging subject matter in her work, with the hope that it is provocative yet easily digested by a varied audience. Bright colors and semi-precious materials are often used to grab attention and draw in the viewer. Growing up as a Black woman in the Pacific Northwest, losing both parents by her early 30s and being a mother to a beautiful boy on the spectrum, her layered life experience heavily influences her artistic curiosity. Her work aims to help generate new perspectives and encourage empathy, pushing to have the viewer walk in another’s shoes while exploring ways that allow one to relate to another. She earned her BFA from Cornish College of the Arts with an emphasis in photography and printmaking and has since focused on innovative ways of creating and interpreting the human journey. The Seattle Art Museum, Pratt Fine Arts, and Seattle Theater Group are a few of the organizations to collaborate with Kimisha. While she isn’t making work, she is raising her amazing flipbook making son, Malcolm.

Marilyn Montufar 
I am an artist who uses photography as a primary medium to advocate for and inspire social change. I consider my portraiture a collaboration with the individuals I photograph. Driven by storytelling in photography, I create installations and explore various mediums such as kiln-glass.

I photograph in the outskirts of major metropolitan cities and remote locations to capture the lives and essences of underrepresented communities – like youth, women, and migrants. My goal is to share people’s stories and connect diverse communities, creating a pathway for conversation, compassion, and understanding.

My aspiration for art is to ignite social change through a call to action with the individuals I photograph as well as with individuals I teach with a goal of making art more accessible and equitable.

I received a BFA in photography from the School of Visual Arts, New York, in 2009. My art has been the subject of solo exhibitions at Centro de Investigaciones Artísticas Gerónimo Baqueiro Fóster, Mérida, Mexico (2019), Gallery 4Culture, Seattle (2018), among others, and has been included in numerous group exhibitions since 2006. In fall 2020, my photograph “Ronnie and Cleveland”  (2006), inaugurated the Frye Art Museum’s Boren Baner Series at a monumental scale in the form of a 16 x 20 ft. vinyl banner.

I have been an artist-in-residence at the Vermont Studio Center in Johnson, Vermont and Primal Studio in Mexico City, where I created the photography youth project “Beyond Borders/ Más allá de las fronteras,” a visual collaboration and international exchange program between these locations. The project was featured at the FotoMéxico Festival and the Tamayo Art Museum’s Education Center in Mexico City and Northern Vermont University’s Gallery, the Julian Scott Memorial Gallery in 2019. I am a Mexican American dual citizen and reside in Seattle.

Tariqa Waters
Born in Virginia, Tariqa Waters is a contemporary artist known for her whimsical larger-than-life fabrications, paintings, self-portraitures and installations. Waters works in varied media- canvas, wood, plastic, ceramics, paint, and photography. Her technicolor characterizations of multigenerational commercial references reclaim an authentic and sincere aesthetic steeped in effortless regality and proudly celebrated traditions.

Waters’ work has been featured in numerous institutions and galleries including the Seattle Art Museum, Frye Art Museum, Hedreen Gallery, and Pivot Art + Culture. Waters’ work has been
featured in issues of Rolling Stone France and Madame Figaro magazines. In 2016, her
critically acclaimed solo exhibition, 100% Kanekalon: The Untold Story of the Marginalized
Matriarch, exhibited at the Northwest African American Museum. In 2020 Waters’ much
anticipated exhibition, Yellow No.5 debuted at the Bellevue Arts Museum.

As the founding owner of Martyr Sauce, located in the historic arts district of Pioneer Square, Waters is dedicated to cultivating artistic space and community. Waters has served in various arts organizations and institutions as well as co-founding Re:Definition gallery at the Paramount Theater in 2015, an on-going partnership with the Seattle Theatre Group redefining historic cultural space. In addition to Waters’ being a featured keynote speaker, Martyr Sauce became a Cultural Partner of the Seattle Art Fair the summer 2017.

Waters received the 2016 Conductive Garboil Grant and was awarded both the Artists
Residency at the Centrum Foundation and the James W. Ray Distinguished Artist Award
nominations. In 2018, she received the 2018 Artist Trust Fellowship Award. A finalist for the
Seattle Art Museum’s 2020 Betty Bowen award, Waters became the recipient of the prestigious
Kayla Skinner Special Recognition Award.


Anthony White 
Anthony White is an artist and curator in Seattle, where he is currently represented by Greg Kucera Gallery. He is a 2018 alumnus of Cornish College of the Arts, the first in his family to complete four years of professional training. White’s work is meticulously spun from common PLA plastic resulting in representations of manipulated and glamorized portraits, consumerism, and brash, instagram-style images as viewed through the lens of a cellphone. He was the 2018 second place recipient of the AXA Art Prize juried by prominent international museum curators, at the New York Academy of Art, in New York City. In 2019 White presented a solo booth at EXPO Chicago, received the Special Recognition award from Seattle Art Museum’s Betty Bowen Committee, and completed the PLOP residency in London, where he later returned for a solo exhibition at Public Gallery. In 2019 Frye Art Museum and Crocker Art Museum acquired work by Anthony for permanent collection. White was selected as Amazon’s 2020 Artist-in-Residence and recently closed his solo exhibition, “Looking Glass” at Greg Kucera Gallery. He is currently in the process of curating a museum exhibition that will launch in 2021 at the Museum of Museums in Seattle.

barry johnson
barry johnson is a self-taught interdisciplinary artist whose work explores race, community, and culture. He’s held residencies throughout the Puget Sound region, Hawaii, Tulum, and Argentina. barry recently authored and illustrated a children’s book titled, “Oh What Wonderful Hair.” barry’s work has been shown and collected around the world ranging in mediums. He’s also created multiple permanent works across King and Pierce counties.

barry has also spoken at a TEDx event in Seattle about the power of creating multiple personas to aid you in your career. He has received multiple grants and awards including the Edwin T. Pratt Award, smART Ventures award, the 2018 GAP Award and he was a finalist for the Conductive Garboil Grant in 2018.

Carol Rashawnna Williams
Born in Topeka, Kansas in a military family, Carol is the only child of Bessie Williams and Willie C. Williams. Soon after birth Carol and her family moved to Frankfurt Germany where she grew up on a military base and went to German schools until she was 11 ½. At which time she and her mother settled in Tacoma, Washington. Carol graduated from Mount Tahoma High School, went to the Evergreen State College, was an Upward Bound student of four years.

Carol’s mother was a certified missionary and gave her life to community service for over 25 years, feeding and sheltering those who were homeless or re-entering society from prison. Carol’s father was a patriot and believed in American democracy. He gave 28 years of his life to his country through military service.

After graduating from college Carol was accepted as an AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer for one year in Seattle’s White Center neighborhood working with young single mothers of Head Start students get jobs and get into school. Carol had her first group exhibit at the Seattle Central Community College Gallery in 1990 when she attended Seattle Central College, it was a community college. Her second group exhibit was in 1996 at the Evergreen State College at which time her work was acquired and catalogued into The Evergreen State College’s video art library and showcased into the student anthology book.

Carol is a mother to two children. She currently resides in Seattle and works to mentor emerging artists from various backgrounds. Carol is a musician of 21 years who plays the violin and the viola. Carol enjoys hiking in the Pacific Northwest’s numerous old growth forests. Carol was certified thru the City of Seattle Parks and Recreation Urban Forest Educator Program and loves to teach about conifers, indigenous, and invasive species. You can find her walking all over Seattle. Carol deeply believes in the power of art to build community, bridge community relationships and create authentic space for healing.

Maya Milton
When asked what she wanted to be when she grew up, Maya Milton’s as as a child was always “an artist.” Beginning at a young age, she took as many art classes as she possibly could to expand her knowledge and skill as an artist. She is currently a multi-media artist who focuses on empowering women of color especially Black women to be comfortable and confident in their own skin. She has exhibited in The M. Rosetta Hunter Art Gallery, Nepantla Art Gallery, and Gallery Onyx. She currently has pieces on display at The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Discovery Center.


All eight finalists will join in studio visits and interviews with the 2020 Neddy curator, Satpreet Kahlon, and filmed by AJ Lenzi, leading up to the studio visits with this year’s national juror to determine the two grand-prize winners. One artist in each of the two categories will be selected by Amber Esseiva to receive the $30,000 prizes.

Amber Esseiva is the associate curator at the Institute for Contemporary Art at Virginia Commonwealth University (ICA VCU). A VCUarts alumna, Esseiva has been essential to the ICA’s programming since joining the institution. Esseiva co-curated the ICA’s inaugural exhibition, declaration (2018), and shows featuring work by Corin Hewitt, Jonathas de Andrade, Julianne Swartz, and others. Most recently, she curated “Great Force” (Oct. 5, 2019 – Jan. 5, 2020), the ICA’s recent exhibition featuring new commissions and recent work by an intergenerational group of 24 artists, exploring how art can be used to envision new forms of race and representation freed from the bounds of historic racial constructs. Esseiva has also curated Provocations: Guadalupe Maravilla (Nov. 9, 2019 – July 1, 2020), the second iteration of the ICA’s annual commission series, which debuts new work by the El Salvador-born multidisciplinary artist and a solo exhibition by Martine Syms (Feb. 16, 2019 – May 12, 2019).

Esseiva received her master’s degree in 2015 from the Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College (CCS Bard). At CCS Bard, she curated and co-curated numerous exhibitions featuring works by artists such as David Altmejd, Louisa Chase, Roe Ethridge, Gabriel Orozco, Jason Rhoades, Mika Rottenberg, Kenny Scharf, and Avery K. Singer. She also co-founded the interdisciplinary curatorial journal aCCeSsions and was appointed the curator of the 2014 MFA graduate thesis exhibition at Bard MFA Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts. In addition to thesis exhibitions, she has worked closely with MFA and BFA students through professional development and mentorships.

From 2015 to 2016, she worked extensively curating exhibitions by emerging and mid-career artists. Highlights include “Anything on a Surface has Space,” a discursive event at The Judd Foundation; and a solo exhibition by artist and VCU alum Alina Tenser at A.I.R. Gallery. After her stay at CCS Bard, Esseiva was appointed director of Retrospective gallery in Hudson, New York; and curator at SEPTEMBER, in Hudson, New York.


The Neddy at Cornish Award honors 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.

For more information, please contact Neddy at Cornish manager, Markie Mickelson.
# # #

Read More

A person typing on a laptop.

Front Page

Winter Surfs the Cornish Website

Read more

Cornish News

Preorder Cornish Staff, Jared Pechaček, new book "The West Passage"

Read more

Cornish News

Cornish College of the Arts Welcomes UArts Students with Automatic Acceptance and Housing Grants

Read more


Cornish Alum, Casey Curan's Met Gala Design Featured in The Seattle Times

Read more