The Pittsburgh Foundation

Call for Entries Opens: $50,000 Bennett Prize for Women Figurative Painters


The call for entries runs April 15 to Oct. 4, 2024, and additional details may be found here. Artists may enter directly here. For the second time, an additional award of $10,000 will be given to one other finalist.

Brooklyn-based artist Shiqing Deng won the third Bennett Prize in 2023, following winners Ayana Ross in 2021 and Aneka Ingold in 2019. Notably, Deng was named an honorable mention in the first Bennett Prize competition in 2019. She is currently creating new work for her Bennett Prize solo exhibition, which will travel the country starting next year. The exhibition will first open at the Muskegon Museum of Art (MMA) in Muskegon, Michigan on May 15, 2025, and will be on display there until Aug. 24, 2025.

In response to her 2023 win, Deng said, “The Bennett Prize gives me the freedom and confidence to create work without any pressure to feel if the work is able to sell or not, and plenty of time to make art. That’s the best thing for me as an artist!”

Endowed by art collectors Steven Alan Bennett and Dr. Elaine Melotti Schmidt at The Pittsburgh Foundation, The Bennett Prize aims to elevate women figurative realist painters—helping them achieve their full potential. The winner receives $25,000 each year for two years, so she has time to create her solo show.

“Through our Center for Philanthropy, our Foundation has been involved with The Bennett Prize from its inception. It has been a great privilege to see how this program has elevated the profile of women figurative realist painters by funding their work and creating opportunities for the public to experience their talents and creativity,” said Lisa Schroeder, Pittsburgh Foundation president and CEO. “Thanks to the Bennetts, these extraordinary artists have burst onto the national stage, and are being collected and sought after as never before.”

The Prize aims to level the playing field for women artists. Works by women artists are collected and shown less frequently by galleries and museums and, when they are purchased, the prices paid are typically far less than those paid to artists who are men.

From the first three iterations of The Bennett Prize, the 28 finalists and three winners have seen an almost 50% increase in prices they are able to command for their work, have obtained numerous gallery representations, and have been featured in several dozen solo and almost 50 group shows. Through The Bennett Prize, these women artists have been featured in more than 30 published stories, 250 advertisements and in 2,500 social media posts.

“With the call for entries for the fourth iteration of The Bennett Prize now open, we anticipate an extraordinary group of women figurative realist painters will take The Prize to new heights,” Steven Alan Bennett said. “The Prize continues to celebrate the exceptional vision and high level of execution of talented women painters from across the United States, and we anxiously await the chance to see this exciting new work.”

The Bennett Prize is awarded by a four-member jury. For the first time, this year’s jurors are all women and include world-renowned artists Angela Fraleigh and Margaret Bowland; Gloria Groom, the Winton Green Curator of 19th Century Painting at the Art Institute of Chicago; and Dr. Elaine Melotti Schmidt, co-founder of The Prize. The jury will select 10 painters from among the entrants and from those 10, the winner of both the $50,000 Prize and the $10,000 award.

“We live in noisy times with loud voices competing for our attention. Our goal is for the Prize to identify 10 highly qualified figurative artists with lucid but compelling voices who will capture our imaginations,” said Schmidt.

The Prize is not open to hobbyists, students or artists whose work has been sold for $25,000 or more, or who have received an award, prize or other recognition for their art in that amount.


Amanda Rogalski
Rogo Marketing & Communications
P: 616-540-9231