Su Su: The Bennett Prize 2.0

American Art Collector, February 1, 2021



The 10 finalists of the second Bennett Prize are among the most dynamic and uniquely talented artists working in figurative realism today.


In 2018 art collectors Steven Alan Bennett and Dr. Elaine Melotti Schmidt announced The Bennett Prize for women figurative realist painters. Bennett and Schmidt’s collection, which has been growing over the past decade, focuses on this frequently overlooked area of the art world. Troubled by the trends of realism falling in favor to contemporary art and the underrepresentation of women in museums and galleries, The Bennett Prize, through the Pittsburgh Foundation’s Center for Philanthropy, was created as a way to propel the careers of women artists and give them the acclaim they deserve.


The Prize was first awarded in 2019 to Aneka Ingold, who was selected from an esteemed group of 10 finalists for the first $50,000 prize, which is given as $25,000 over two years to help them create a body of work for a  new museum exhibition. The 10 finalists for The Bennett Prize 2.0 were announced on November 30 after more than 670 entrants submitted their work for review from a four-member jury made up of artists Alyssa Monks and Katie O’Hagan; Patrick Moore, director of The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh; and Bennett.


Selected this year were Sophia-Yemisi Adeyemo-Ross, Tanmaya Bingham, Chloe Chiasson, June Glasson, Holly Keogh, Lavely Miller, Rebecca Orcutt, Ayana Ross, Su Su and Amy Werntz.


“As a juror for The Bennett Prize, I was delighted to see the diversity of artists who applied and the range of their approaches to figurative realism,” says Moore in a press release. “The 10 finalists selected reflect the richness of how female artists choose to depict the most personal of subjects—the body. I also really appreciated that the jurors had a wide range of viewpoints. Viewers will see that this contributed to a rich and varied exhibition.”


The artwork in the show represents a range of styles, mediums and subjects that show the varied and individual viewpoints of the artists who create them. They are oftentimes personal accounts, but still allow the viewer to join in the work by completing narratives or relating to the subjects depicted. An underlying theme throughout the artwork is the connectivity to today’s worlds. Each artist uses their own perspectives on topics such as race, society, politics, gender and the human condition, and places it within contexts that can be felt through emotional weight or universal experiences.


The 2.0 finalists will exhibit their work at the Muskegon Museum of Art, slated for May 20 to September 12, where the winner of The Bennett Prize will be announced. The finalist show will then travel to venues in Florida, Georgia and Tennessee. Alongside that show will be the opening of Ingold’s solo exhibition. The winner for the second iteration will have two years to focus on the work for their show, which will open in 2023 when The Bennett Prize 3.0 winner will be announced.



Su Su


Figurative realism and surrealism combine in Su Su’s paintings that explore culture and self-identity, often reminders of the dangers of conformity and over commercialization through pop culture and consumerism. The Pittsburgh-based artist primarily focuses on self-portraits, creating “a persona that is naïve and soft but fully in control of her sexual power.” The context is stripped away in the artwork, as a mirror to her experiences with American pop culture while living in her native China, and leaves the viewer with colorful imagery of the “nymph-like” figure.



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