The Seattle Art Museum and the Betty Bowen Committee are proud to announce Seattle artist Tariqa Waters as the winner of the 2023 Betty Bowen Award! The juried award comes with an unrestricted cash award of $15,000 and a solo exhibition at SAM. This year’s committee included Gary Glant (Chair), Mike Hess, Mark Levine, Sangram Majumdar, Catharina Manchanda, Llewelyn Pritchard, Greg Robinson, Norie Sato, Anthony White, and Merrill Wright.
Tariqa Waters’s innovative practice encompasses mixed-media tableaus, paintings, photographs, film, and immersive installations that push the aesthetics of commercial advertising into surreal, otherworldly territory. It is at the juncture with product advertising that Waters interrogates the importance of styling and beauty, especially its significance for Black women. Her work will be featured at the Seattle Art Museum in a solo exhibition in 2024, with dates to be announced.
Solo exhibitions of Waters’s work have been shown in Seattle at the Hedreen Gallery, the Northwest African American Museum, and the Museum of Museums (MoM). She has been awarded multiple prizes and grants, including the Conductive Garboil Grant, the Artist Trust Fellowship Award, the Neddy Artist Award, and the Artist Trust Arts Innovator Award. Waters is a two-time finalist for the Betty Bowen Award, winning the Kayla Skinner Special Recognition Award in 2020 and the Gary Glant Special Recognition Award in 2021. She was named one of Seattle’s Most Influential People in 2023 by Seattle Magazine.
Samantha Wall won the Kayla Skinner Special Recognition Award and Mary Ann Peters won the Gary Glant Special Recognition Award, in the amount of $2,500 each. Finalists Derek Franklin, Lisa Liedgren Alexandersson, and Ido (Lisa) Radon will each receive Special Commendation Awards in the amount of $1,250, awarded annually since 2020. The six finalists were chosen from a pool of 414 applicants from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho to compete for the $23,750 in awards.
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. 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, SAM has hosted the yearly grant application process by which the selection committee chooses one artist from the Northwest to receive an unrestricted cash award, eligible to visual artists living and working in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.
“This award serves as a testament to the countless hours, sleepless nights, and relentless dedication that I have poured into my craft,” says Waters. “It is a validation of the risks I have taken, the boundaries I have pushed, and the artistic growth I have experienced along the way. As an artist, it is not always easy to navigate the complexities of the creative process, but this recognition affirms that my work has resonated with others and has made a meaningful impact.”
The 2022 winner was Portland artist Elizabeth Malaska. Her solo exhibition, All Be Your Mirror, debuts at the Seattle Art Museum November 17, 2023–June 16, 2024. Learn more about Waters and all of the 2023 Betty Bowen finalists here.
– Rachel Eggers, SAM Associate Director of Public Relations
Images: Tariqa Waters by Alex Cayley. Samantha Wall by Stephen Slappe. Mary Ann Peters by Amanda Smart.