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Artist Trust | Frye Art Museum Consortium Announces Recipients of the 2017 James W. Ray Awards

For Immediate Release:

December 11, 2017 – The Artist Trust | Frye Art Museum Consortium is proud to name literary artist Jane Wong as this year’s James W. Ray Distinguished Artist. The two James W. Ray Venture Project Award recipients are performing artist Veronica Lee-Baik, and visual artist Christopher Paul Jordan with collaborator Arnaldo James. First presented in 2014, the James W. Ray Awards total $80,000 and are comprised of one $50,000 James W. Ray Distinguished Artist Award and two $15,000 James W. Ray Venture Project Awards. All award recipients will have the opportunity to present their work at the Frye Art Museum through funding made possible by the generous support of the Raynier Insitute & Foundation.

“I am awe-struck in receiving the James W. Ray Distinguished Artist Award. The images that swarmed around me when I got the call: my mother working night shift at the post office, dropping wonton wrappers into my old restaurant’s deep fryer, my grandmother’s cabinet full of plastic bags in plastic bags, for we cannot waste anything,” exclaimed Jane Wong, 2017 James W. Ray Distinguished Artist Award. “I hold this award in [my grandfather’s] honor and lineage. How, across distances of poverty, migration, and silenced histories, I am able to sing forth his stories and the stories of my missing family members. I feel grateful, proud, and reinvigorated to enact change through writing. With many thanks to Artist Trust, the Raynier Institute & Foundation, and the Frye Art Museum for believing in me, my communities, and my ghosts.”

“We are honored to continue our partnership with the Raynier Institute & Foundation in recognizing Washington State’s artists through the James W. Ray Awards. The power of the awards rests in their ability to have a transformative impact on the artists’ careers,” said Frye Art Museum Director/CEO Joseph Rosa and Artist Trust CEO Shannon Halberstadt on behalf of the Artist Trust | Frye Art Museum Consortium. “We are proud to invest in artistic excellence and the development of new ideas through individual and collaborative projects supported through the James W. Ray Awards.”

Jane Wong, 2017 James W. Ray Distinguished Artist
Jane Wong of Seattle is a poet, essayist, and assistant professor at Western Washington University. The author of Overpour (Action Books, 2016), she is invested in public scholarship; her project on the poetics of haunting in Asian American poetry appeared as a TEDx talk and a multimedia website. Wong’s writing seeks to name forgotten histories and address the intergenerational impacts of migration and violence. As a writer challenged by language and its innumerable possibilities, she is first and foremost a radical reader. She supports and champions writers of color via her communities, classroom, and grateful bookshelf.

Veronica Lee-Baik, 2017 James W. Ray Venture Projects
Born in Singapore, Veronica Lee-Baik is a Seattle-based visual artist. She uses the body as a tool for dialogue with herself and the world. Lee-Baik’s works embodies her distinctive choreographic voice, reflecting Western avant-garde styles through the prism of Asian aesthetics to engage audiences with bold, innovative performances. Her multimedia project, “A Crack In The Noise,” is a collaborative artwork strengthened by artists from different backgrounds, showing what can be accomplished when differences unite rather than divide. The performance will blend elements of ballet, modern dance, and a wide range of Asian traditions to express the hope, survival, and desperation of such a journey and raise awareness about the very real and pressing issues facing immigrants.

Christopher Paul Jordan, 2017 James W. Ray Venture Projects
Tacoma visual artist Christopher Paul Jordan integrates virtual and physical public space to form infrastructures for dialogue and self-determination among dislocated people. A recipient of the 2017 Neddy Artists Award for painting, the Jon Imber Painting Fellowship, and the GTCF Foundation of Art Award, his paintings and sculptures are artifacts from his work in community and time-capsules for expanding inquiry. “Mission Black Satellite,” a project produced in collaboration with curator, photographer, educator, project strategist, and product designer Arnaldo James, will launch with a series of permanent public murals across the island of Trinidad and Tobago in conjunction with the call and response exhibitions #COLORED2017 and #NEGRO2018 curated by Jordan and James.

About the James W. Ray Awards
Currently in its fourth year, the James W. Ray Distinguished Artist Award of $50,000 is the largest cash grant available to Washington State artists and recognizes artists in all disciplines whose work demonstrates exceptional originality and is intended to advance the creative work of an outstanding individual artist. The two James W. Ray Venture Project Awards support projects by artists in all disciplines whose work demonstrates exceptional originality. A complete list of past James W. Ray Award recipients can be viewed on the Artist Trust website.

Eligible artists representing a breadth of disciplines, art practices, and locations throughout Washington State are nominated for the James W. Ray Distinguished Artist Award and James W. Ray Venture Project Awards. The evaluation of applications and selection of recipients was performed by a multi-disciplinary panel of five arts professionals. Nominators and panelists were selected by Artist Trust and the Frye Art Museum.

2017 James W. Ray Nominators

Literary Art
Sonora Jha, writer & board president, Hedgebrook
Elissa Washuta, author & instructor

Media Art
Laura Nyhuis, director, Tacoma Film Festival
Juan Pampin, director, UW DX Arts Program

Multidisciplinary Art
Michael D’Alessandro, executive director, Northwind Arts Center
Kelly Hart, executive director, Allied Arts of Whatcom County

Performing Arts
Victoria Watts, chair, Cornish Dance Department
Sharon Williams, executive director, CD Forum

Visual Art
Barbara Brotherton, curator of Native Art, Seattle Art Museum
Jenny Hyde, professor, Eastern Washington University

2017 James W. Ray Award Panelists

Bret Fetzer, theatre artist & 4Culture staff
Michael Holloman, Native Art Historian, Washington State University
Susan Moore, poet & program director, Portland Literary Arts
Joseph Rosa, Director/CEO, Frye Art Museum
Gilda Sheppard, filmmaker & professor, Evergreen State University

About the Raynier Institute & Foundation
Raynier Institute & Foundation, founded in 1994 by James Widener Ray, is a Private Foundation. Our mission is to fund individuals, organizations and causes of a charitable nature that will carry out projects and programs of high merit for the betterment of humanity.

About the Artist Trust | Frye Art Museum Consortium
The Artist Trust | Frye Art Museum Consortium received a five-year, $1.1 million grant to support exceptional artists living and working in Washington State. The awards are made possible by the generous support of the Raynier Institute & Foundation.

About Frye Art Museum
The Frye Art Museum supports and presents the work of contemporary artists from Seattle and around the globe as well as historical exhibitions celebrating the values of its Founding Collection. Admission to the Frye is always free. For more information, visit

About Artist Trust
Artist Trust is a nonprofit organization whose sole mission is to support and encourage individual artists working in all disciplines in order to enrich community life throughout Washington State. Since its founding in 1986, Artist Trust has invested over $10 million in individual artists through grant programs, and provides a comprehensive suite of professional development training and resources to help artists achieve their career goals. Learn more at