November 7

Meet 2018’s Neddy Artist Award Winners

Lakshmi Muirhead and Timea Tihanyi talk art, inspiration, and process.

Mark your calendars: One of the highlights of the region’s arts scene is coming to the South Lake Union area this month. From November 14 through December 16, Cornish Playhouse Gallery will exhibit works by the winners of the 2018 Neddy Artist Awards, Washington state’s most generous and longest-running visual arts awards. The annual “Neddys” (a tribute to the late Seattle painter and Cornish College teacher Ned Behnke) provide two unrestricted prizes of $25,000 and six $1,500 awards to Puget Sound-area artists in two categories, painting and open media.

Below, the winners of this year’s top prizes, Timea Tihanyi and Lakshmi Muirhead explain what drives them to create.

Timea Tihanyi

Neddy Artist Award Winner, Open Media

My name is Timea Tihanyi, and I’ve been an interdisciplinary artist for 20 years. I graduated 15 years ago at the University of Washington with an MFA in ceramics. I also have a degree in Medicine, with a focus on the study of the brain. I got that degree in Hungary, where I’m from originally.

My work is ceramics, sculpture and installation, but I also work with various other disciplines and communities in preparation for my projects.

I’m interested in how we think, the process of thinking and the process of logical and creative thinking, and how we understand the world through our physical experience with materials.

Sometimes I really see the project in my head in its full extent. Sometimes I have some vague vision of the outcome and I have to do a lot of searching and testing of different ideas and processes, which actually generates the work one step at a time. It’s almost like looking for the light switch in the dark.

Sometimes I still work like a scientist. I try to be really methodical about the research part, there’s a body of information that I can build up. I think the approach is happening a bit in a scientific way.

Lakshmi Muirhead

Neddy Artist Award Winner, Painting

My name is Lakshmi Muirhead. I was born in the Midwest. I’m from Bloomington, Illinois initially. I moved to Seattle in 2002.

I did not study art at all in undergrad, I studied English, I studied Literature and I was in a teaching program. I spent my professional life post college teaching. In my spare time, I would do a lot of writing, I would draw some, paint some, just not with any kind of rigorous focus at all.

I think one thing that’s true for me since I didn’t have an MFA experience is that I don’t have a grounding in art history or learning about art through the techniques and rules of painting. I think when I first started to make paintings it was really driven by the tactile experience of construction which is something that’s still true for me. I really love working on plywood and using lots of building materials to layer and create texture.

I think that most of the time the paintings that I started making 10 years ago, and it’s still true today, is driven by an emotional, aesthetic, and visceral experience that I’m craving.

Sometimes it starts with a visual idea that I’m ruminating over. Either a pattern I’m thinking about or a color scheme or something I’ve seen around me in my environment that I’m stuck on. And I think in a broader way, often times the work is motivated by a memory, an experience, or an idea that I’m carrying around all the time.

Text, and transcription of a conversation or a thought or an idea or some manner of inner-monologue, self-talk, drives most of what I’m making. It’s all arguably perception.

Story by Aly Brady and photographs by Elizabeth Podlesnik and Hayley Young.

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