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BRAVA Award Winners 2023

Bainbridge Island Museum of Art (BIMA) is proud to announce the recipients of the first-ever BRAVA Awards: Kamari Bright, Julie Chen, Julie Paschkis, and Betty Pasco. BRAVA, which stands for “BIMA Recognizes Achievement in the Visual Arts,” was created to recognize four contemporary artists, craftspeople or makers whose work demonstrates artistic merit and excellence, technical mastery, contribution to the arts landscape and professional accomplishment in four different fields: Emerging Artist, Artists’ Books Artist, Children’s Book Illustrator, and Native American and First Nations Artist. Each of these extraordinary artists will receive an unrestricted award of $15,000 in recognition of their unique artistic talent and contribution to their field. The Award was made possible by a visionary BIMA supporter who was inspired by the museum’s commitment to find ways to directly recognize and support working artists and craftspeople. 

“We are thrilled to be able to honor these four individuals with a BRAVA Award in its inaugural year,” said Sheila Hughes, BIMA’s Executive Director. “It’s a wonderful opportunity for this museum to be able to make a meaningful difference to the lives of working artists. We hope the Award serves as affirmation and recognition for each of these exceptional artists and inspires them to continue their personal journey to interpret the world through their art and craft.”

BIMA’s initial class of BRAVA Award recipients is:

Emerging Artist Award (Puget Sound region)

Kamari Bright

Finalists: Ariana Heinzman & KT Hancock

Kamari Bright is a self-taught creator with a background in psychology, social services, and community advocacy. She began her art journey after moving to Seattle and in lieu of formal training, has developed her practice by taking courses, watching tutorials, and studying other artists. She began as a poet, expanding into other extensions of the written word which eventually led her to videopoetry and installation. “Moving fluidly through these mediums has given me the gifts of freedom and experimentation in my craft,” remarks Bright. As a result, her work has been displayed in the Jack Straw Writers Anthology, Film & Video Poetry Symposium, Moss Literary Journal, the Academy Award-qualifying HollyShorts Film Festival, and more honors including being the first recipient of the Artist Trust Fellowship Award for Black Artists.

Read more about Kamari Bright and watch her BRAVA Award Video

Artists’ Books Artist Award (United States)

Julie Chen

Finalists: Karen Kunc & Sarah Bryant

Julie Chen is an internationally known book artist who has been publishing under the Flying Fish Press imprint for over 36 years. Her books combine text and image with innovative book structures to create experiences that engage the reader in interactions that go far beyond the simple turning of a page. Julie’s work has been featured in exhibitions including shows at the University of Washington, University of Wisconsin, the National Museum of Women in the Arts (Washington, D.C), and the Jack Ginsberg Centre for Book Arts, Wits Museum (Johannesburg, SA). Her work can be found in the Library of Congress, the Victoria and Albert Museum (London, UK), and the Sir George Grey Special Collections (Auckland, NZ). She has been a featured artist in PBS’s “Craft in America” and the documentary film “The Book Makers.” In addition to her practice as an artist, Chen is a curator and speaker at many conferences and institutions around the world. She is currently a Professor of Art at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. 

Read more about Julie Chen and watch her BRAVA Award Video

Native American & First Nations Artist Award (Salish Sea region)

Betty Pasco

Finalist: Dan Friday

A respected Suquamish tribal elder, Betty Pasco, 87, is a Salish weaver, traditional basket maker, graphic artist, clothing designer, and illustrator, who is most proud of her work to preserve the arts and culture of her ancestors by mentoring others—especially Native girls. After a strict childhood where her cultural traditions were denied, and later an abusive marriage, Betty enrolled at the Institute of American Indian Arts (AIAI) in Santa Fe, New Mexico at the age of 60. Upon her return to the Pacific Northwest she reconnected with and married Duane Pasco, a former instructor who inspired her to take on new challenges and better understand the history of Pacific Northwest Native arts and cultures. In 2005 she began a path towards mastering the traditional practices of wool weaving and natural dyes using observation, research, and trial-and-error to learn how to weave in the style of her ancestors. Her work has been or remains on display at the Skagit County Museum in La Conner, Seattle’s Stonington Gallery, the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art, the Clearwater Casino Resort and Hotel, the Burke Museum, the Suquamish Museum, and in private collections.

Read more about Betty Pasco and watch her BRAVA Award Video

2023 Special Choice Category: Children’s Book Illustrator Award (Puget Sound region)

Julie Paschkis

Finalists: Nikki McClure & Corinna Luyken 

Julie Paschkis has illustrated over 40 books for children, 12 of which she also wrote, that have been critically acclaimed by The New York Times, Horn Book Awards, Children’s Book Council, Cybil Poetry Award, Americas Award, Aesop Accolade, and Charlotte Zolotow Honor Award. Perhaps best known for her books, she also makes art that isn’t for books. She has exhibited her paintings in over 20 solo shows in Seattle, Portland, Austin, and the Skagit Valley. “I like art that is available to all kinds of people. I’ve made posters, t-shirts and cards. I’ve designed fabric, scarves, hooked rugs and tiles. I’ve made art out of bread, out of oil tins, and learned to paint with my left hand after breaking my arm.” What all of her work has in common is that it tells stories — some playful, some deep.

Read more about Julie Paschkis and watch her BRAVA Award Video


Each of the four BRAVA awardees receive an unrestricted award of $15,000. In addition to the cash prize, the recipient of each award receives: 

  • Recognition in BIMA media;
  • A short video to be produced about the recipient;
  • Invitation to participate in an Award Ceremony at the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art; 
  • Invitation to serve as one of the jurors on the review panel of the next biennial award process.