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For Artists


The Seattle Art Museum strives to represent our local community and contemporary voices that are underrepresented in the art world. Two regular opportunities are offered for artists to receive cash prizes and a solo exhibition at our downtown location. Through the annual Betty Bowen Award Competition artists in the Northwest have the chance to send unsolicited submissions of art to SAM. The Gwendolyn Knight and Jacob Lawrence Prize is awarded biannually to an early career black (not necessarily African American) artist through nominations.

Artist and Collector Submissions

Looking for information on SAM policies concerning submissions of your own work or works from your collection?

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the Gwendolyn Knight & Jacob Lawrence Prize

Gwendolyn Knight & Jacob Lawrence Prize Winner Sondra Perry

Image: Untitled, 2020, Lauren Halsey, hand-carved gypsum on wood, 95 x 71 1/2 x 3 in., image courtesy of the artist and David Kordansky Gallery, © Lauren Halsey.

The Seattle Art Museum’s Gwendolyn Knight and Jacob Lawrence Prize is awarded biannually to an early career Black artist, defined loosely as an artist in the first decade of their career who demonstrates artistic commitment and great promise.

The selected artist is awarded a solo exhibition in SAM’s Gwendolyn Knight & Jacob Lawrence Gallery and receives a $10,000 award to further their artistic practice.

The prestigious award recognizes artists whose prominence is rising in the contemporary art world, and who have already made important contributions to the visual arts. Past prize recipients are now leaders in contemporary artistic practices.

Gwendolyn Knight (1913–2005) and Jacob Lawrence (1917–2000) were renowned artists and dedicated teachers who lived and worked in Seattle for much of their lives and recognized the need for Black artists to have support and advocacy. The prize was founded in honor of these two artists and continues their legacy, providing inspiration for young artists and scholarship in the field of art history. Funding for the prize and exhibition is provided by the Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence and Jacob Lawrence Endowment and generous support from the Jacob and Gwendolyn Lawrence Foundation.


The nomination process is anonymous. Nominations are collected from a rotating national pool of highly regarded curators, scholars, artists, and arts leaders. Each nominator is invited to provide a short list of artists whose work demonstrates excellence in execution and vision. Sandra Jackson-Dumont, Director and CEO of Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, led the anonymous nomination process this year. Since 2009, she was the founding curator of the prize’s exhibitions. Jackson-Dumont was formerly the Frederick P. and Sandra P. Rose Chairman of Education at the Metropolitan Museum of Art; prior to that, she was SAM’s former Deputy Director for Education and Public Programs and Adjunct Curator in Modern and Contemporary Art.

Current Winner

2021 Lauren Halsey

the Betty Bowen Award

The 2021 application for the Betty Bowen Award is now open. Apply now at The deadline is August 1, 2021.

Administered by the Seattle Art Museum, the annual Betty Bowen Award honors a Northwest artist for their original, exceptional, and compelling work. The winner is awarded an unrestricted cash prize of $15,000, and a selection of his or her works is shown at the Seattle Art Museum in the spring of 2021. In addition, up to two Special Recognition Awards in the amount of $2,500 are often granted at the discretion of the Betty Bowen Committee.

Betty Bowen (1918–1977) was a Washington native and enthusiastic supporter of Northwest artists. Her friends established the annual Betty Bowen 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 Betty Bowen Committee chooses one visual artist working in the Northwest to receive the unrestricted cash award.

Who is eligible for the award?

The award is open to visual artists in all media working in Washington, Oregon, or Idaho. Artists of diverse backgrounds are encouraged to apply.

How is the winner selected?

The winner is selected in a two-part jury process. In the first round, the applicants are reviewed anonymously. Five finalists are selected from the pool of applicants. Finalists are then invited to present their work to the committee in person in the second round and will receive an honorarium of $500 for related expenses. After this review process, the committee selects one award winner in addition to any special recognition award winners they wish to honor.

Selection is based on, but not limited to, the following criteria:

  • The compelling nature of the artist’s ideas and contribution to the field

  • The quality and creativity of the work submitted for review

  • The artist’s commitment to developing their work

  • The impact the award will have on the artist and his/her career

How do I apply?

The application will be available at There is a $10 application fee. All entries must be submitted online. Entries sent by standard mail will not be accepted. Artists working in film or video are required to upload six film stills with your online application and send no more than 3 video files via Dropbox or Vimeo links. Artists are encouraged to submit their most recent body of work.

Betty Bowen Committee Members

Gary Glant (Chair)
Mark Calderon
Mike Hess
Sonal Khullar
Isaac Layman
Mark Levine
Catharina Manchanda, Jon & Mary Shirley Curator of Modern & Contemporary Art, Seattle Art Museum
Llewelyn Pritchard
Greg Robinson
Norie Sato
Bill True
Maggie Walker
Dan Webb
Merrill Wright

Honorary Member

Jeffrey Bishop


Betty Bowen 2019 Winner Dawn Cerny

The 2020 Betty Bowen Award Winner is Seattle-based artist Dawn Cerny. Cerny’s sculptures, made of inexpensive and readily available materials such as wood, wire, and cardboard, explore what she refers to as “the theater of Home.”Her recent body of work examines ideas of furniture and mothers as metaphors: figures that secure value for their potential to hold, display, or be absentmindedly left with things. This pattern of holding as the creation of intimacy and belonging, pleasure, and self-preservation plays out repeatedly in her work. Cerny’s recent solo shows include Oxbow, Seattle (2020), the Portland Art Museum (2017), and the Henry Art Gallery (2017). In 2016, she was the recipient of a Betty Bowen Special Recognition Award, and in 2019 was an Artist in Residence at Pilchuck Glass School in Stanwood, WA.

In addition, Elijah Hasan won the Special Recognition Award and Tariqa Waters won the Kayla Skinner Special Recognition Award, with awards in the amount of $2,500 each. Finalists Roland Dahwen, Marilyn Montufar, and Christian Alborz Oldham will each receive awards in the amount of $1,250 each, added by the committee this year in recognition of the financial hardships many creatives are facing due to the coronavirus.

Hasan is a writer, filmmaker, and director. His projects lay bare the realities of systemic racism, social justice, and activism, exploring subjects such as the experiences of Black police officers in the Portland police department and the parallels between Americans who fought in the Spanish Civil War and contemporary members of Antifa. He centers the stories of Black communities as they navigate these realities, all while on a personal journey of artistic and spiritual growth.

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.


2020 Dawn Cerny, Grand Prize
Tariqa Waters, Kayla Skinner Special Recognition Award
Elijah Hansan, Special Recognition Award

Past Winners

2019 Lynne Siefert, Grand Prize
Anthony White, Kayla Skinner Special Recognition Award
Andrea Joyce Heimer, Special Recognition Award
2018 Natalie Ball, Grand Prize
Amy Bernstein, Kayla Skinner Special Recognition Award
Deborah Faye Lawrence, Special Recognition Award
2017 Molly Vaughan, Grand Prize
2017 Ko Kirk Yamahira, Kayla Skinner Special Recognition Award
2017 Deborah Lawrence, Special Recognition Award
2016 Wendy Red Star, Grand Prize
2016 Mark Mitchell, Kayla Skinner Special Recognition Award
2016 Dawn Cerny, Special Recognition Award
2015 Jack Daws, Grand Prize
2015 Lou Watson, Kayla Skinner Special Recognition Award
2015 Eirik Johnson, Special Recognition Award
2014 Ralph Pugay, Grand Prize
2014 Klara Glosova, Kayla Skinner Special Recognition Award
2014 Gretchen Frances Bennett, Special Recognition Award
2013 Leo Berk, Grand Prize
2013 Sol Hashemi, Kayla Skinner Special Recognition Award
2013 Jack Daws, PONCHO Special Recognition Award
2012 Sarah Bergmann, Grand Prize
2011 Jenny Heishman, Grand Prize
2011 SuttonBeresCuller, Kayla Skinner Special Recognition Award
2011 Lisa Liedgren, PONCHO Special Recognition Award
2010 Ellen Lesperance, Grand Prize
2010 Barbara Sternberger, Kayla Skinner Special Recognition Award
2010 Eli Hansen, PONCHO Special Recognition Award
2009 Josh Faught, Grand Prize
2009 Matt Offenbacher, Kayla Skinner Special Recognition Award
2009 Jenny Heishman, PONCHO Special Recognition Award
2008 Isaac Layman, Grand Prize
2008 Eric Elliott, Kayla Skinner Special Recognition Award
2008 Wynne Greenwood, PONCHO Special Recognition Award
2007 Oscar Tuazon, Grand Prize
2007 Joseph Park, PONCHO Special Recognition Award
2007 Vanessa Renwick, PONCHO Special Recognition Award
2006 Margie Livingston, Grand Prize
2006 Emily Gherard, PONCHO Special Recognition Award
2006 Mary Simpson, PONCHO Special Recognition Award
2005 Marie Watt, Grand Prize
2005 Evan Blackwell, PONCHO Special Recognition Award
2005 David Russo, PONCHO Special Recognition Award
2004 Victoria Haven, Grand Prize
2004 Timothy Foss, PONCHO Special Recognition Award
2003 Dan Webb, Grand Prize
2003 Rachel Moore, PONCHO Special Recognition Award
2002 Ross Palmer Beecher, Grand Prize
2002 Buster Simpson, PONCHO Special Recognition Award
2002 Michael Rathbun, PONCHO Special Recognition Award
2001 Brian Murphy, Grand Prize
2001 Hildur Bjarnadottir, PONCHO Special Recognition Award
2001 Jaq Chartier, PONCHO Special Recognition Award
2000 Iole Alessandrini, Grand Prize
2000 Eric Bashor, PONCHO Special Recognition Award
2000 Lauren Grossman, PONCHO Special Recognition Award
2000 Victoria Haven, PONCHO Special Recognition Award
1999 Ford Gilbreath, Grand Prize
1999 Jennifer Dixon, PONCHO Special Recognition Award
1998 Michael Howard, Grand Prize
1998 Erik Geschke, PONCHO Special Recognition Award
1998 Kevin Kadar, PONCHO Special Recognition Award
1997 Cathy McClure, Grand Prize
1997 David K. Chatt, PONCHO Special Recognition Award
1997 Mary K. Guth, PONCHO Special Recognition Award
1997 Robert M. Plogman, PONCHO Special Recognition Award
1996 Henry DePosit, Grand Prize
1996 Daniel Mihalyo, PONCHO Special Recognition Award
1996 Jeffrey Simmons, PONCHO Special Recognition Award
1996 Robert Yoder, PONCHO Special Recognition Award
1995 Lanny Bergner, Grand Prize
1995 Michael Knutsen, PONCHO Special Recognition Award
1995 Dan Webb, PONCHO Special Recognition Award
1995 Kumi Yamashita, PONCHO Special Recognition Award
1994 Collin Shutz, Grand Prize
1994 Judy Allen, PONCHO Special Recognition Award
1994 Erick Stotik, PONCHO Special Recognition Award
1993 Ingrid Lahti, Grand Prize
1993 Pamela Gazale, PONCHO Special Recognition Award
1993 Josiah McElheny, PONCHO Special Recognition Award
1992 Amanda Fin, Grand Prize
1992 Luke Blackstone, PONCHO Special Recognition Award
1991 Mark Fuller, Grand Prize
1991 James Lavadour, PONCHO Special Recognition Award
1990 Cris Bruch, Grand Prize
1990 Rick Bartow, PONCHO Special Recognition Award
1990 Margi Beyers, PONCHO Special Recognition Award
1990 Claudia Fitch, PONCHO Special Recognition Award
1989 Ken Kelly, Grand Prize
1989 Steven Engle, PONCHO Special Recognition Award
1989 Mark Fuller, PONCHO Special Recognition Award
1989 Shelley Moore, PONCHO Special Recognition Award
1988 Nancy Mee, Grand Prize
1988 Jack Chevalier, PONCHO Special Recognition Award
1988 Alfred Harris, PONCHO Special Recognition Award
1988 Barbara Noah, PONCHO Special Recognition Award
1987 George Chacona, Grand Prize
1987 Gayle Bard, PONCHO Special Recognition Award
1987 Susan Bennerstrom, PONCHO Special Recognition Award
1987 Peter Millett, PONCHO Special Recognition Award
1987 Ed Musante, PONCHO Special Recognition Award
1987 Selene Santucci, PONCHO Special Recognition Award
1986 Mark Calderon, Grand Prize
1985 Debra Sherwood, Grand Prize
1984 Randy Hayes, Grand Prize
1983 Norie Sato, Grand Prize
1982 Jeffrey Bishop, Grand Prize
1981 Joan Stuart Ross, Grand Prize
1980 Joseph Goldberg, Grand Prize
1980 Leo Kenney, PONCHO Special Recognition Award
1980 Charles Stokes, PONCHO Special Recognition Award
1979 Charles Stokes, Grand PrizeFixed typo on Lynne 

Learn More

For more information about the Betty Bowen Award, please email us.​​​​

Seattle Art Museum acknowledges that we are on the traditional homelands of the Duwamish and the customary territories of the Suquamish and Muckleshoot Peoples. As a cultural and educational institution, we honor our ongoing connection to these communities past, present, and future. We also acknowledge the urban Native peoples from many Nations who call Seattle their home.

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