BC professor raises awareness for transgender life

Bellevue College Professor Jono Vaughan is this year’s winner of the Seattle Art Museum’s Betty Bowen Award. This award is a “highly prestigious honor for Pacific Northwest artists since 1977 and one that comes with a prize of $15,000 and an exhibit at [the Seattle Art Museum],” according to the Seattle Art Museum’s website.
Vaughan was awarded for her series titled “Project 42,” which she created to support and bring awareness to the transgender community, focusing on the short life expectancy of transgender people in the United States.
“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. Jono Vaughan’s current work memorializes transgender individuals whose lives were cut short by violence,” the Seattle Art Museum website details. “She creates handmade garments that are then used in collaborative public performances.”
Among a larger multi-media compilation that is “Project 42,” one aspect of the project is to shed light on a specific transgender person who was killed, Tiffany Berry, featuring a certain fabric design to represent her.
Bellevue College congratulates Vaughan for this outstanding achievement. “More than 500 artists applied for this prestigious award. Jono’s ongoing series, ‘Project 42,’ raises awareness about the extreme violence against trans people by commemorating 42 transgender individuals who have been murdered,” the BC website says.
Catharina Manchanda, the Jon & Mary Shirley Curator of Modern & Contemporary Art at the Seattle Art Museum, commented on the winner of this reputable award. “Jono understands her role as that of both artist and activist. Her artistic approach brings incredible complexity and nuance to a subject that has great resonance in our contemporary movement,” she explained. “We look forward to sharing her work with our visitors.”
The Seattle Art Museum website details on the background of the Betty Bowen Award. The award is named after Washington native Betty Bowen, who was an eager supporter of artists in the Northwest. “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,” the website describes. The Seattle Art Museum has hosted this event for the past 40 years, in which the Betty Bowen Committee selects visual art by a Northwestern artist.
“Project 42” will be featured at the Seattle Art Museum starting in April until August 2018. Currently, Vaughan’s memorial piece for Tiffany Berry is being displayed at the Minnesota Museum of American Art.
Along with two special recognition winners of the award, Vaughan will be honored in a free public ceremony at the Seattle Art Museum on Nov. 9, 2017.