Anthony White wins the 2021 Betty Bowen Award

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Anthony White wins the 2021 Betty Bowen Award
Anthony White, QUIET HOUR, 2021. PLA (polylactic acid) on panel, 60 x 60 x 1 ½ in., Courtesy of the artist and Greg Kucera Gallery, © Anthony White.

SEATTLE, WA.- The Seattle Art Museum and Betty Bowen Committee, chaired by Gary Glant, announced today that Anthony White is the winner of the 2021 Betty Bowen Award. The juried award comes with an unrestricted cash award of $15,000 and a solo exhibition at SAM. Founded in 1977 to continue the legacy of local arts advocate and supporter Betty Bowen, the annual award honors a Northwest artist for their original, exceptional, and compelling work.

In Anthony White’s work, composed of PLA plastic, consumer items and brand symbols that define our moment coalesce to offer a reflection of society through the lens of social media, cell phones, and selfies. In 2019, White was the recipient of the Kayla Skinner Special Recognition Award, and in 2020 he won the Neddy at Cornish Painting Award. Recent exhibitions include Queer Visibility: Dean Sameshima & Anthony White at the Henry Art Gallery, Seattle and solo shows at Greg Kucera Gallery, Seattle and PUBLIC Gallery, London. White’s work will be featured at the Seattle Art Museum in a solo exhibition in 2022, with dates to be announced.

In addition, Humaira Abid won the Kayla Skinner Special Recognition Award and Tariqa Waters won the Gary Glant Special Recognition Award, with awards in the amount of $2,500 each. Finalists Barry Johnson, Howard L. Mitchell, and Kimisha Turner will each receive Special Commendation Awards in the amount of $1,500, added by the committee last year and continuing this year. The six finalists were chosen from a pool of 420 applicants from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho to compete for the $24,500 in awards.

“I have dreamt of one day exhibiting my work at the Seattle Art Museum, and it's exciting that the opportunity is now in sight,” says White. “I look forward to sharing this experience with my family and friends; Seattle and the Seattle art community; anyone who is interested in slowing down and participating with my work; and most importantly, with those who look, sound, and act like me. Being selected for this award is an incredible honor, and I thank the selection committee and the Seattle Art Museum. I am so motivated and I know my abilities as an artist will be pushed because of this.”

The 2020 winner was Dawn Cerny. Her solo exhibition of sculptures Les Choses is currently on view at the Seattle Art Museum and closes September 26.


Anthony White – Seattle, WA

White identifies personal memorabilia and brand icons within domestic and digital spaces, seeking to discover why certain consumer objects and ideas are idealized. Ranging from luxury to lowbrow and painstakingly “painted” with PLA (a melted biodegradable plastic), the consumer items and symbols in his densely packed still lifes and portraits form an identity of desire. Often these scenes examine the framing of social media and selfies, capturing moments from behind the cell phone lens.


Humaira Abid – Seattle, WA

Abid uses woodworking techniques and South Asian miniature painting in her sculptures and installations, exploring women’s issues that she identifies as typically taboo or overlooked: miscarriage, family, relationships, violence, and freedom. Using everyday objects as symbols, she brings attention to pressing social issues such as migration and displacement. Abid lives and works in both the United States and Pakistan, where she was born.


Tariqa Waters – Seattle, WA

Waters’ whimsical, Pop-inspired work references childhood memories where vanity and self-preservation collide to mask systemic and generational pain. Her work examines ideas of femininity, beauty, race, sexuality, and inclusion. Using photography, videography, and sculptural fabrication, Waters attempts to create innovative ways to distort reality to the point where marginalization is impossible.


Barry Johnson – Seattle, WA

Johnson’s bold, colorful portraits address the omission of Black figures in canonical western history. The faces of his figures are often obscured, covered, or otherwise altered, alluding to the erasure of Black history and identity while also seeking to reclaim it. His recent work includes large-scale murals and architectural interventions, envisioning ways to activate nontraditional art spaces.

Howard L. Mitchell – Portland, OR

Mitchell analyzes the relationships between identity, class, and power in his videos. His layered works are visually rich and sensuous, ranging from the essayistic to dramatic short story formats. Communication (or the inability to connect) sits of the heart of recent works including Saudade (Portuguese, meaning a state of melancholic longing), which traces the chance encounter of two strangers and Forgive Us Our Debt, a tightly edited film about a Black family threatened by foreclosure and eviction.

Kimisha Turner – Seattle, WA

Turner’s work focuses on loss, grieving, and healing that connect the personal with widely shared experiences. Her intimate sculptures touch on traditions such as reliquaries and symbolic objects for healing, practices that she deepens is her ceremonial rituals. A distinctive approach to materials and transformative processes, including growing sugar crystals using the ashes of family members who passed away, imbue her objects with deep symbolic meaning.

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