Reflections on Art Practices in Seattle: 25 Years of the Neddy Artist Award

The Museum of History & Industry’s (MOHAI)

Reflections on Art Practices in Seattle: 25 Years of the Neddy Artist Award

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The Behnke Foundation, Cornish College of the Arts, and the Museum of History & Industry are excited to celebrate the cultural impact of the Neddy Artist Award throughout the Pacific Northwest. Created twenty-five years ago to honor Seattle artist and teacher Ned Behnke (1948-1989), the Neddy Artist Award recognizes innovative visual artists across media.

On view at Seattle’s Museum of History & Industry (MOHAI) from June 4-September 5, 2023 and curated by Negarra A. Kudumu, Celebrating Pacific Northwest Artists: 25 Years of the Neddy Awards features past Neddy grand prize award recipients – some of the most significant Northwest visual artists of the last quarter century. Celebrating a broad range of creativity, this exhibition of contemporary artworks highlights the fruits of creative growth and community-driven support that the Neddy Artist Award program has fostered for the last twenty-five years.

The Neddy Artist Awards offers one of the largest artist awards in the Pacific Northwest, providing two gifts of $25,000, and six of $2,000 to visual artists based in the Puget Sound region every year. From a selection of eight finalists, two grand prize awardees are selected by an annually rotating National Juror. The Neddy at Cornish program is funded by a grant from the Behnke Foundation and stewarded by Cornish College of the Arts as a tribute to the Seattle painter and teacher Ned Behnke.

The Neddy Artist Award program 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. His legacy is in evidence throughout our community, through the generous philanthropy of the Behnke family.


Negarra A. Kudumu is an interlocutrice working at the intersection of art and healing with a focus on contemporary art from the Pacific Northwest, Africa, South Asia, and their respective diasporas.

In her art practice, she functions as a curator, writer, and public speaker. Negarra’s recent curatorial expertise includes the 2022 Neddy Award Exhibition, a group exhibition at the 2021 ARCO Madrid art fair for the Lisbon-based art gallery MOVART, and three exhibitions during her tenure as curator at the Center on Contemporary Art in Seattle (CoCA) featuring works by artists Selma Waldman, Meghan Elizabeth Trainor, and Rajaa Gharbi respectively. In 2017 and 2018, Negarra self-produced a series of online exhibitions featuring emerging and established artists based in the United States, Canada, and The Netherlands titled, Curatorial Lab.

Negarra’s writing has been published in notable volumes such as Atlantica: Contemporary Art From Angola and Its Diaspora (Hangar Books, 2018) and Recent Histories: Contemporary African Photography and Video Art From the Walther Collection (Steidl/The Walther Collection, 2017). She has also contributed essays to exhibition catalogs, gallery publications, and art world magazines in the United States and Canada.

Negarra regularly lectures, participates in talks, and moderates panels on various topics related to contemporary art. Over the past five years, she has been invited to speak in Calgary, Toronto, Amsterdam, Harare, and Venice on a range of topics including the intersections between art and healing, art education, and alternative artistic practice. Most recently, she participated in the second Loophole of Retreat conference, curated by Rashida Bumbray, in connection with Simone Leigh’s participation in the 59th Venice Biennale.

Negarra lives and works in Seattle, WA.


Event Dates

June 4, 2023 to September 5, 2023
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