Winners Announced for the Neddy at Cornish Artist Award

((L): Tariqa Waters | Photo courtesy of Tariqa Waters (R): Anthony White | Photo by James Harnois)

The 2020 Neddy Cornish Awards have been awarded to Tariqa Waters and Anthony White.

Our deepest congratulations to Waters (Open Medium) and White (Painting), each of whom will receive an increased award — this year only — of $30,000 in unrestricted funds. Selected by National Juror Amber Esseiva, Waters and White will be featured, along with this year’s six runners-up, in the Neddy at Cornish exhibition, opening in March at the University of Washington’s Jacob Lawrence Gallery. 

From National Juror Amber Esseiva:

“This was not an easy decision. Each of the finalists’ possessed strong artistic practices and an impressive commitment to community building. In the end, the two winners exemplified a mastery of their mediums and a commitment to issues related to consumption and the formation of identity today.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed many things to us, but above all else, what this global pandemic has exemplified are the ways in which inequities can become further substantiated in times of economic and social decline. This pandemic has unevenly affected those in the service industries, while it also has led to a drastic rise in consumption from companies such as Amazon. In a time where race, equity and identity have become central to many conversations in the field, Waters and White provide access and insight into issues related to identity and mass consumption that feel necessary.

Read the Juror’s comments on Tariqa Waters and Anthony White here:

Follow along on Facebook and Instagram as we tour the exhibition in progress, and visit each of the finalists in their studios.

Thank you all who entered and congratulations to the grand prize winners and finalists!

Neddy at Cornish Award


Tariqa Waters (Open Medium)

Anthony White (Painting)



barry johnson

Carol Rashawnna Williams

Maya Milton

Hanako O’Leary

Kimisha Turner

Marilyn Montufar

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 ongoing 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, Washington, 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 cell-phone. 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 NYC. 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. 

The Neddy at Cornish Award

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.


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