The Bennett Prize


Elaine Melotti Schmidt

Dr. Elaine Melotti Schmidt is co-founder of The Bennett Prize for Women Figurative Realists and co-curator of The Bennett Collection, an art collection dedicated to paintings of women by women. Schmidt received her doctorate in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies from Temple University and has worked or consulted in schools on three continents. With a special passion for reaching children living in poverty or born with learning or physical differences, Schmidt’s areas of specialization include early childhood education, special needs, second language learners, and at-risk student instruction. Schmidt lives with her husband, Steven Alan Bennett, in Texas, where they are art collectors who specialize in realist paintings of women by women artists. This undertaking has afforded Schmidt the opportunity to meet many working women artists as well as to create a collection of paintings showing women from all walks of life. Schmidt has curated a number of art exhibitions including Visions of Venus/Venus’s Visions, which appeared at the Zhou B Art Center in Chicago in 2018, and, with Bennett, Painting the Figure Now at the Wausau Museum of Contemporary Art in Wausau, Wisconsin in 2021. She and Bennett are major donors to the Muskegon Museum of Art in Muskegon, Michigan, which will open its new wing, the Bennett Schmidt Pavilion, in 2025.