Celebrating the 2022 Arts Innovator Award Recipients and Community

Published: May 25, 2022

Categories: Artist Stories | Artists | Featured | Grants & Fellowships

Artist Trust Announces 2022 Arts Innovator Award Recipients 

We are pleased to announce the recipients of the 2022 Arts Innovator Award (AIA), Preston Singletary and Brent Watanabe! Created in partnership with the Dale and Leslie Chihuly Foundation, this award is one of the largest available to artists of all disciplines working in Washington State. Brent and Preston will each receive $25,000 in recognition of innovation and risk-taking in their artistic practice. They were selected as awardees from a cohort of eight finalists by a statewide multidisciplinary panel comprised of four artists. The remaining six finalists will each receive a $500 honorarium in recognition of their collective achievement and time they invested to participate. 

“We are so excited to recognize these two extraordinary artists with this award,” said Artist Trust Board President Mariella Luz. “Storytelling is deeply central to both of their work. Brent’s innovative use of technology and Preston’s work with glass remind us of the importance of our past, present, and future. This award is one of the largest available for Washington State artists, and we thank the Dale and Leslie Chihuly Foundation, and our greater donor community for making this possible.” 

Preston Singletary (Tlingit) is an internationally exhibited glass artist and his art has become synonymous with the relationship between European glass blowing traditions and Northwest Native art. His artworks feature themes of transformation, animal spirits and shamanism through elegant blown glass forms and mystical sand carved Tlingit designs.  

Singletary’s artworks are included in museum collections such as The British Museum (London, UK), The Museum of Fine Arts (Boston, MA), The Seattle Art Museum (Seattle WA), the Corning Museum of Glass (Corning, NY), the Mint Museum of Art and Design (Charlotte, NC), the Heard Museum (Phoenix, AZ), the Smithsonian Institution (Washington, DC) and others.  

Singletary maintains an active schedule by teaching, lecturing and exhibiting internationally. In 2009, the Museum of Glass in Tacoma, WA, launched a major mid-career survey of his work, entitled “Preston Singletary: Echoes, Fire, and Shadows”. Recently he launched a new traveling exhibition with the Museum of Glass, titled “Raven and the Box of Daylight”, which pushes the boundaries of glass as a medium for storytelling. 

I am honored to receive this year’s Arts Innovator Award,” said Singletary. “I stand on the threshold of the Tlingit ancestors who came before me, and I carry the symbols and codes into the future in new ways with the material of glass.” 


Brent Watanabe is an artist combining a background in traditional materials and practices (drawing, sculpture) with emerging technologies (computer programming, electronics), exploring an artistic field still being defined and discovered. 

For over a decade Watanabe has been creating computer-controlled gallery installations populated by kinetic sculpture, drawing, projection, and sound. One of his recent projects, San Andreas Deer Cam (2016), was presented live on the Internet, had over 800,000 visitors in the first three months, and was written about in dozens of publications, including New York Magazine, the BBC, and WIRED. He has participated in numerous group shows and screenings nationally and internationally, most recently at Bureau Europa (Maastricht, Netherlands, 2022) and Centro Cultural Banco de Brasil (Rio de Janiero, Brazil, 2022) . He has had recent solo exhibitions at SOIL Art Gallery (Seattle, WA, 2006), McLeod Residency (Seattle, WA, 2008), Jack Straw New Media Gallery (Seattle, WA, 2009), Gallery 4Culture (Seattle, WA, 2011), Anchor Art Space (Anacortes, WA, 2013), and Bumbershoot Music and Arts Festival (Seattle, WA, 2016). 

Brent shared, “This award is an incredible gift of recognition, support, and resources. The Arts Innovator Award will afford me the freedom to explore, experiment, and expand my art practice. The funding will enable me to attempt projects previously out of reach and give me the opportunity to hire and collaborate with local artists, programmers, and artisans to realize these larger projects. I am honored to be included among the amazing and diverse finalists for the award this year, and just so thrilled and thankful for this support. 


2022 Arts Innovator Award Finalist Cohort 

Thione Diop, percussionist from Senegal, West Africa, is descended from an ancestral line of Griot drummers. He fuses traditional rhythms with jazz and collaborates with many musicians from a wide range of musical backgrounds. His music appears in four studio albums and several films. He tours internationally, teaches at the University of Washington, and produces the annual Spirit of West Africa Festival in Seattle. 


Casandra Lopez is a Chicana and California Indian writer and teacher (Cahuilla/Tongva/Luiseño). Half-way through her MFA (Fiction), she witnessed her brother’s murder prompting her to begin writing poetry. Her poetry collection, Brother Bullet is forthcoming from University of Arizona. She has received support from Tin House, Bread Loaf, Storyknife and Hedgebrook. 

As a multi-genre writer her work explores the intersection of identity and diaspora as they relate to trauma and grief. Her memoir A Few Notes on Grief draws upon personal experience and research. This multi-genre project uses fragments to create a collage form that intends to speak to the ruptures that are often caused by trauma and is an attempt to map out a path toward healing. 

She believes strongly in supporting other writers of color and co-founded the literary journal, As/Us: A Space for Writers of The World. She teaches on the Lummi reservation at Northwest Indian College. 

Since witnessing my brother’s murder I’ve been compelled to write about my experience and the cycle of violence that is prevalent in San Bernardino, my hometown. I explore what does it mean when one Indigenous man murders another and if there can be justice. This grant will assist in the completion of my memoir, A Few Notes on Grief, a multi-genre project that includes, essays, poems, along with responses to various historical and government texts such as my brother’s death certificate. I began by writing about my immediate experiences with violence, but through this process, I was prompted to further research historical trauma. These responses will be interspersed throughout the manuscript to provide a thread that links my present experience as an Indigenous woman with the violence of colonialism. 


Alicia Mullikin is a first generation Mexican-American dance artist, educator, community organizer, and founder of EL SUEÑO. Her work weaves ancient and contemporary identities into physical manifestations by drawing from her rich cultural experiences and deep-rooted ancestral ties. Through all of her work, Alicia aims to empower historically marginalized communities and nurture the next generation of dance artists. She does so by creating free accessible arts events throughout King County and uses dance as a weapon against systems of oppression.  

For more info follow @el.sueno.dance    


Troy Osaki is the grandson of Filipino and Japanese immigrants. A three-time grand slam poetry champion and recipient of grant awards from Artist Trust and the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture, he has earned fellowships from Kundiman, Hugo House, and the Jack Straw Cultural Center. His poetry has appeared in Crazyhorse the Margins, Muzzle Magazine, Poetry Northwest, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, and elsewhere. He holds a Juris Doctor degree from the Seattle University School of Law where he interned at Creative Justice, an arts-based alternative to incarceration for youth in King County. He lives on occupied Duwamish land known as Seattle, WA. 


Lynne Siefert is a moving image artist whose work addresses issues relating to the climate crisis, capitalism, cultural amnesia, and political complacency. Siefert’s 16mm films and digital works have exhibited internationally in festivals such as the Berlinale, Edinburgh International Film Festival, EXiS Experimental Film and Video Festival, Antimatter Media Art, and Black Canvas Festival de Cine Contemporáneo, and in galleries and museums such as the Jacob Lawrence Gallery, Glass Box Gallery, and the Seattle Art Museum, among others. Siefert’s work has received funding from Artist Trust, 4Culture, Seattle Office of Arts and Culture, and The Puffin Foundation. In 2019, Siefert became the first moving image artist to receive the Seattle Art Museum’s Betty Bowen Award in the award’s 43-year history. In 2020 Siefert had her first solo show at the Seattle Art Museum. 


Born in Virginia, Tariqa Waters is a contemporary artist known for her whimsical larger-than-life fabrications, paintings, self-portraitures and installations. Waters works in varied media- canvas, wood, plastic, ceramics, paint, and photography. Her technicolor characterizations of multigenerational commercial references reclaim an authentic and sincere aesthetic steeped in effortless regality and proudly celebrated traditions.  

Waters’ work has been featured in numerous institutions and galleries including the Seattle Art Museum, Frye Art Museum, Hedreen Gallery, and Pivot Art + Culture. Waters’ work has been featured in issues of Rolling Stone France and Madame Figaro magazines. In 2016, her critically acclaimed solo exhibition, 100% Kanekalon: The Untold Story of the Marginalized Matriarch, exhibited at the Northwest African American Museum. In 2020 Waters’ much anticipated exhibition, Yellow No.5 debuted at the Bellevue Arts Museum.  

As the founding owner of Martyr Sauce Pop Art Museum and Gallery, located in the historic arts district of Pioneer Square, Waters is dedicated to cultivating artistic space and community. Waters has served in various arts organizations and institutions as well as co- founding Re:Definition gallery at the Paramount Theater in 2015, an on- going partnership with the Seattle Theatre Group redefining historic cultural space. In addition to Waters’ being a featured keynote speaker, Martyr Sauce became a Cultural Partner of the Seattle Art Fair the summer 2017.  

Waters received the 2016 Conductive-Garboil-Grant and in 2018, she received the Artist-Trust- Fellowship Award. In 2022 became an Artist Trust finalist for the Arts Innovator Award. Two consecutive years in a row, Waters received the Seattle Art Museum’s 2020 Kayla Skinner Special Recognition Award and the 2021 Gary Glant Special Recognition Award. In 2020 Tariqa was the recipient of The Neddy at Cornish Open Medium Award. 


2022 Arts Innovator Award Panelists  

Deepest gratitude to our 2022 Arts Innovator Award panelists for their time, care, and dedication to the 2022 AIA process. 

Rajah Bose, Spokane County 

Joshua Kohl, King County  

Rena Priest, Whatcom County 

April Surgent, Jefferson County 


Thank you to the Dale and Leslie Chihuly Foundation for their foundational support of the Arts Innovator Award.