Top Ten: Bennett Prize

by Sarah Gianelli | 02.01.23

Bennett Prize 3.0

The 10 finalists selected for the third iteration of the $50,000 Bennett Prize represent the best women figurative realist painters working today.

Designed to propel the careers of women artists, the Bennett Prize awards $50,000 to allow the recipient to devote two years to create a body of work that culminates in a solo exhibition at Michigan’s Muskegon Museum of Art, after which it will tour the country.

The prize was announced in 2018 after being developed at the Pittsburgh Foundation’s Center for Philanthropy. Art patrons and avid collectors, Steven Alan Bennett and Dr. Elaine Melotti Schmidt of San Antonio, Texas, endowed a $3 million fund to ensure it would be awarded every two years in perpetuity.
In the following pages, you will learn about the 10 finalists for this year’s prestigious and most generous art award ever off ered solely to women figurative realist painters, and see samples of the artwork that made these women rise to the top of a record number of applicants.

The finalists were selected by an esteemed jury of four comprised of eminent realist painter Zoey Frank; Julie Bell, the world-renowned illustrator and painter; Joseph Rosa, retired director and CEO of the Frye Art Museum; and Bennett, the prize co-founder.

Representing the far corners of the country and many states in between, this year’s top 10 artists are Ruth Dealy, Ronna S. Harris, Haley Hasler, Sara Lee Hughes, Monica Ikegwu, Laura Karetzky, Linda Infante Lyons, Mayumi Nakao, Kyla Zoe Rafert and Deng Shiqing.

The winner will be announced May 18, at the opening reception of the exhibition at the Muskegon Museum of Art in Muskegon, Michigan. For the first time, a runner-up will receive a $10,000 award. All 10 finalists’ works will remain on view through September 10 before traveling through the summer of 2025. The work of Bennett Prize 2.0 winner, Ayana Ross, will be presented in a solo exhibition that will run concurrently with the exhibition of the finalists.

“The work of these finalists lives up to, and exceeds, the high standards set by the previous finalists,” says Bennett. “The finalists’ exhibition is going to be an extraordinary exhibition of the highest quality.”