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Who won a Neddy Award? SHE won that!!!! But what is a Neddy and how did Tariqa Waters win it?

Let’s start with the award. First of all, the Neddy at Cornish Award is one of the Northwest’s largest and most esteemed annual awards for artists. Since 2011, Cornish College of the Arts has been a steward of this award, which is in honor of painter Robert. E. “Ned” Behnke. Awards are given to visual artists living and working in the Puget Sound Region. The 2020 award size was increased to $30,000 and Tariqa won the grand prize in the category of Open Medium. Anthony White was also awarded a grand prize in the Painting category for his work. And how exactly is one selected for a Neddy? Artists must submit an application including 12 - 15 samples, with a focus on work that fosters an awareness of or reflection on the world and human experience.

ARTE NOIR says “Congratulations!” to both Anthony and Tariqa, and we hope you don’t mind that we give Tariqa just a bit more shine. She is after all Black Girl Magic personified!

Tariqa Waters, Bruh, What?! - Image courtesy of the artist

Tariqa Waters is worldly, and in many ways otherworldly. Her iconic art manifests in larger-than-life installations and sculptures presenting everyday objects mediated in environments and architectural spaces that become vehicles for confronting memories and inherited generational circumstances. While deeply personal, Tariqa’s installations are also quite accessible.

Her 2018 exhibit at the Northwest African American Museum,100% Kanekalon: The Untold Story of the Marginalized Matriarch, featured her memories and invited the viewers to recall their own. We heard the trash talk of a spades game around a littered kitchen table where Dollar Store bags remind us of the need to make a lot of something out of a little nothing. The use of her grandmother’s hat, with whom she collaborated on the exhibit, is an ode to the generational style that passes through women in the Black community. The entire exhibit was a tribute to her grandmother’s post-church rituals.

Hailing from Richmond, Virginia, Tariqa’s art became defined while she was working as a muralist in Sicily, where she lived for several years. Moving to Seattle in 2012, her entrée into the Northwest arts scene was not one to which she was introduced. Instead, she introduced the community to Tariqa by opening a funky and fabulous gallery, Martyr Sauce, in Seattle’s historic Pioneer Square. Martyr Sauce, the name a bit of a play on ketchup and hot sauce, is filled with choice ingredients – piss, distilled vinegar, irreverence, high fructose cough syrup, non hydrogenated snake oil, street or book smarts, white privilege, Black rage, natural flavor, artificial colors, made in a facility that processes deez nutz. We get the message!

Tariqa’s work has garnered international recognition and deserves all that and more! Check her out at


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