NCECA Helene Zucker Seeman Curatorial, Research, and Critical Writing Fellowship for Women

The MemberSuite association management system that NCECA relies on for many of its online calls for entry is experiencing server disruptions that are causing problems with submissions. All calls with a deadline originally set for Wednesday, October 14, 2020 are being adversely impacted. Because of this, NCECA has determined to extend the deadline one full week to Wednesday, October 21, 2020.

EXTENDED DEADLINE: Application and all Letters of Recommendation must be submitted by October 21, 2020 (11:59pm EDT)
Please submit in a timely fashion to provide enough time for Recommenders to email their Confidential Letters of Recommendation also by October 21, 2020 (11:59pm EDT).

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In 2020, friends of the late Helene Zucker Seeman established two monetary awards through NCECA. One will provide an enriched monetary stipend to a female identifying 2021 Emerging Artist. The other, detailed below, is the NCECA Helene Zucker Seeman Curatorial, Research, and Critical Writing Fellowship for Women. 

NCECA’s purpose is to promote and improve the ceramic arts through education, research, and creative practice. The NCECA Helene Zucker Seeman Curatorial, Research, and Critical Writing Fellowship for Women has been created to encourage, support, and develop research, curatorial work, and critical writing in the field of ceramics. Monetary support received through this fellowship may be applied to direct costs associated with research related to and/or production of an exhibition. The subject(s) and goal(s) of inquiry must be described in the project description. We use an inclusive definition of the terms “woman” and “female”. We welcome trans and cis women as well as genderqueer, and non-binary people.

NCECA Helene Zucker Seeman Curatorial, Research, and Critical Writing Fellowship for Women
The applicant must make a project proposal for use of the $2,500 award, and submit additional materials as specified in the Application Process. One award in the amount of $2,500 will be given and will be mailed upon return of the signed agreement. The award also includes a one-year membership with NCECA. The Fellowship recipient will be notified of the selection in late 2020 and publicly announced through NCECA E-News, social media platforms, and conference publications.

Curator, archivist, art historian, author, mentor, wife, mother, friend.  This list describes the varied roles Helene Seeman played, but it only hints at who she was, what she achieved, and how deeply she affected the many people whose lives she touched before hers ended tragically and all too soon the summer of 2010.  

Helene is probably best known for building an internationally acclaimed art collection for the Prudential Companies, but she began building her own career in the late 1970s at the Louis K. Meisel Gallery in Soho. Bronx born and raised, with a newly minted Master’s in Library Science and Archival Research, she landed a job as a receptionist, but her intelligence and energy moved her ahead quickly.  It wasn’t long before she was the gallery’s director.  

While in that position, Helene researched and documented with Meisel and Gregory Battock “Photorealism,” a definitive description of what was, in 1980, a burgeoning new art movement.  Helene was an accomplished writer authoring, “Soho:  A Guide,” co-authored with Alanna Siegfried in 1978. The book was reviewed and well received by the N.Y. Times. Helene’s work was prescient, recognizing Soho as a thriving artists’ community long before it had been discovered by others and become the prototype for arts-driven urban revitalization that other cities have tried to emulate.  

 Helene’s ability to recognize “firsts” was very much in evidence in her role as director of the arts acquisition program at Prudential.  Over nearly two decades, she built a $20 million collection recognized for its range as well as its value.  At Prudential Helene was working with architects and engineers to implement numerous site installations she commissioned with recognized sculptors and artists. The 10,000 works include contemporary painting, sculpture, crafts, glass, ceramics, photography, folk art, and American Indian artifacts.  The Prudential collection reflected the depth of Helene’s knowledge of art, the variety of her interests, and especially her ability to recognize emerging artists.  

Helene was especially committed to promoting the work of women artists, which she did in a variety of ways. As an archivist, she compiled visuals depicting the work of women artists from every country in the world, creating a touring exhibit displayed in museums world-wide.  As a curator, a collector in her own right and as an adviser to other collectors, Helene purchased the works of women artists early in their careers, providing crucial support for many of them.  

 Helene relished the interaction with artists almost as much as she enjoyed experiencing their art.  As important as the financial support she gave so many artists by purchasing, or directing the purchase, of their work, was the encouragement and emotional support she offered them as a trusted advisor, mentor, and friend.  

Always an admirer of ceramics, Helene became an ardent ceramicist.  Working at Greenwich House, she became for the first time a creator of art .  Working at Greenwich House, she became for the first time a creator of art, pursuing this new interest with the energy and intensity she brought to everything she did, forging new alliances, expanding her knowledge of art, and deriving immense pleasure from this new experience.    

​Helene was also very much involved in the community in which she lived.  Following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, she co-founded Battery Park City United, a grass roots community organization dedicated to preserving the Battery Park City neighborhood she lived in with her husband Fred and their two sons, Ford and Curtis. ​ 

Helene’s death stunned and saddened the communities in which she had been so actively involved.  On short notice more than 700 people attended her memorial service.  The tributes – and there have been many – have focused as much on her personal strengths as on her professional achievements:  Her integrity, her warmth, her humor, the passion with which she lived her life, the love with which she enveloped her family and her wide circle of friends.  Many people touch others; few leave their fingerprints behind. Helene left her fingerprints, deep and lasting, on the people she touched and on the art world to which she contributed so much.  


Female/female-identifying graduate students in curatorial (or related) studies, emerging curators, and critical writers. We use an inclusive definition of the terms “woman” and “female”. We welcome trans and cis women as well as genderqueer, and non-binary people.


***IMPORTANT***Although the system that supports this submission form does not currently include an active word counter, NCECA asks all applicants to note and adhere to word count limitations that are identified in open fields. The best way to do this for most applicants will be to compose responses to these open fields first utilizing the word-processing software on your computer or device and take advantage of the included word-counting tools.

Once composed, proofed, and counted, you can copy your text from your local word processing software into the appropriate fields in the form. Please note that in some instances, special characters copied from word processing platforms may be converted in the form system. For this reason, we caution applicants on the use of special characters where not absolutely necessary.

NCECA reserves the right to exclude applications that disregard word count limits and to edit any and all text submitted for reasons ranging from space allocation to style, fluency of language, and grammatical concerns. All applications must be submitted using NCECA’s Online Submittal process (a link to the form is provided below). 

Applicants are strongly advised to prepare the following AND save a copy to your computer BEFORE starting the online submission process. Extended time in the form may cause the form to time out and the system to log you out. Your online submittal form must include the following or it will not be considered: (Only .doc, .docx, .xls, .xlsx, .pdx or .jpg files will be accepted as indicated below):

  • Name/contact information will auto-populate once you have logged in to and accessed the form in the NCECA database. 
  • Proposed Curatorial, Research, or Critical Writing Project description (Limit 500 words)
    The project must be supportive of your goals as a curator, researcher, and/or critical writing author. Clearly state your objectives, how the award will be used to fulfill those objectives, an itemized budget (See Excel Template below), and the anticipated impact the fellowship will have on your research/curatorial/critical writing practice. Awards may not be used for tuition. The purpose of the NCECA Helene Zucker Seeman Curatorial, Research, and Critical Writing Fellowship for Women is to advance curatorial inquiry and exhibition development rather than personal artistic production.
  • Project Abstract (Limit 100 words)
  • Budget Excel spreadsheet (download template)
  • Required for Graduate Student applicants
           1. Name, City and State of School/Institution currently attending.
           2. Cumulative Undergraduate and Graduate GPAs.
           3. Transcripts
    (official/unofficial) One undergraduate and one graduate transcript required, up to four allowed. (Upload as.doc, .docx or .pdf, not to exceed 2MB).
  • Required for non-graduate student applicants – A two-page resume of ‘highlights’ – Upload as.doc, .docx or .pdf, not to exceed 2MB).
  • IMAGES: No fewer than 5 and no more than 10 images (upload as jpg only – each image no larger than 800 KB) Include images that are relevant to the project. 
  • Required information for each image: Artist name, title of work, date, image description, clay type, firing method, dimensions (H, W, D), and photo credit (if applicable) (Limit 50 words)
  • Image relevance to project (Limit 50 words)
  • Recommenders’ information to include: Name, institution affiliation/profession, best phone, email, and relationship.
  • Two (2) Letters of Recommendation – Letters should address your competencies and commitment to your research, professional curatorial practice, and/or critical writing. Please request your letters in a timely fashion allowing enough time for your recommenders to complete and submit their Letters of Recommendation by October 21, 2020 (11:59pm EDT)

 ******All Letters of Recommendation are to be emailed confidentially by the Recommenders to

For ease of communication,
please include these instructions when requesting letters from your recommenders.

  • Letters should address the applicant’s competencies and commitment to research, professional curatorial practice, and/or critical writing. 
  • Letters of Recommendation are to be emailed confidentially by the Recommenders to  by October 21, 2020 (11:59pm EDT).
  • Email subject line is to be formatted as
                            Last name_First name_2021_Curatorial Fellowship 
  • The letter may be attached as .doc, .docx, or .pdf ONLY.


The Nominations Committee includes the Steward of the Board and/or one President, one Director at Large, one Student Director at Large, an Honorary Member or Fellow of the Council, and one member at large appointed by the president. Proposals will be evaluated based on innovation, rigor, criticality of concepts described within the project, and the potential impact of research on the field. Additional factors impacting the outcome will be letters of recommendation and quality of visual support materials. The committee will review submissions and notify applicants in early December 2020.

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