This October, Ellen Lesperance (born 1971) received the Betty Bowen Award for her thought-provoking work that draws upon archival activist footage—specifically of women’s political demonstrations. From these historical documents, she extracts motifs embedded in the sweaters the women wore while engaged in non-violent, direct action protests, and creates paintings that are in effect knitting patterns. As the artist explains, “I make this work in order to memorialize the glory of effective resistance in an effort that these moments do not vanish from popular memory, in an effort that they can reach new audiences to inspire.” Lesperance received a MFA in Visual Arts from Rutgers University in 1999 and a BFA in Painting from the University of Washington in 1995. She lives and works in Portland, Oregon. Lesperance’s work is on view at SAM in the Betty Bowen Award winner exhibit adjacent to the Brotman Forum from October 18, 2010–October 3, 2011.
Betty Bowen (1918–1977) was a Washington native and enthusiastic supporter of Northwest artists whose friends established the annual award as a celebration of her life and to honor and continue her efforts to provide financial support to the artists of the region. Since 1977, the Seattle Art Museum has hosted the yearly grant application process by which the selection committee chooses one Northwest visual artist—from Washington, Oregon, or Idaho—to receive an unrestricted cash award, this year in the amount of $15,000.
—Marisa C. Sánchez, Assistant Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art
We Will Cover Your Fallen Body, Beth O'Brien, and Tell You That It Was Not in Vain. The Forest at Eagle Creek Remains! Let It Echo Your Most Valiant of Names: Horehound…Horehound…, 2010, Ellen Lesperance, American, b. 1971, gouache and graphite on paper, 20 3/4 x 29 5/8 in., Courtesy of the artist