Deadline: January 29, 2021
The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery announces an open call from Oct. 5 through Jan. 29, 2021, for submissions to its sixth triennial Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition. Established in 2006, the Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition invites artists (ages 18 and over) living and working in the United States, Puerto Rico, US Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and Guam, to submit one portrait for consideration by a panel of experts. Artworks by prizewinners and finalists are then featured in a museum exhibition. The competition focuses on broadening the definition of portraiture while highlighting the genre’s wider relevance to society and within the field of contemporary art. It aims to bring together works that attend to the country’s diversity in terms of race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status and other conditions that shape the individual and collective identities of artists and sitters.
The first-prize winner will receive $25,000 and a commission to portray a remarkable living American for the National Portrait Gallery’s collection. Additional cash prizes will be awarded. Submissions from each finalist and prizewinner will form “The Outwin 2022: American Portraiture Today” exhibition, which will be displayed at the Portrait Gallery from April 30, 2022, through Feb. 26, 2023, before traveling to other cities in the United States.
Held every three years, the Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition has accelerated participants’ careers. First-prize winners of the triennial competition include David Lenz (2006), Dave Woody (2009), Bo Gehring (2013), Amy Sherald (2016) and Hugo Crosthwaite (2019). In 2019, Crosthwaite became the first Latino artist to receive this prestigious award. Works from the triennial’s fifth edition, including Crosthwaite’s stop-motion drawing animation, “A Portrait of Berenice Sarmiento Chávez,” can still be viewed online at portraitcompetition.si.edu. “The Outwin 2019” will also travel to the D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts, Springfield Museums in Springfield, Massachusetts (Oct. 3–April 4, 2021) and the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, Washington University in St. Louis (Sept. 10–Jan. 23, 2022).
The Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition is organized by the National Portrait Gallery. For each competition, the museum selects three members of its staff and four professionals from outside the museum (critics, art historians, artists) to serve as jurors. Since 2006, guest jurors have included Dawoud Bey, Wanda M. Corn, Trevor Fairbrother, Peter Frank, Harry Gamboa Jr., Thelma Golden, Sidney Goodman, Lauren Haynes, Byron Kim, Hung Liu, Kerry James Marshall, Helen Molesworth, Brian O’Doherty, Jefferson Pinder, Richard J. Powell, Jerry Saltz, Peter Schjeldahl, Katy Siegel, Alec Soth and John Valadez.
Taína Caragol, curator of painting and sculpture and Latino art and history, is the director of the 2022 Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition. Guest jurors for this competition are Kathleen Ash-Milby, curator of Native American art, Portland Art Museum; Catherine Opie, artist and professor of photography at the University of California, Los Angeles; Ebony G. Patterson, artist, Chicago; and John Yau, critic and professor of critical studies, Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers University. Members of the jury from the National Portrait Gallery include co-curators of “The Outwin 2022” exhibition Caragol and Leslie Ureña, associate curator of photographs, and Dorothy Moss, curator of painting and sculpture and coordinating curator for the Smithsonian American Women’s History Initiative.
The competition welcomes all media, including painting, drawing, sculpture, photography, printmaking, textiles, video, performance and digital or time-based media. Artworks may originate from direct encounters between the artist and the sitter, or draw on earlier references, such as art historical images or archival sources. Portraits may be of individuals or groups and represent sitters of different ages. All entries by eligible artists must be submitted electronically through the online submission site. For further instructions and details, visit portraitcompetition.si.edu.
The Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition is made possible by the Virginia Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition Endowment, established by Virginia Outwin Boochever and continued by her children.
National Portrait Gallery
The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery tells the multifaceted story of the United States through the individuals who have shaped American culture. Spanning the visual arts, performing arts and new media, the Portrait Gallery portrays poets and presidents, visionaries and villains, actors and activists whose lives tell the American story.
The National Portrait Gallery is part of the Donald W. Reynolds Center for American Art and Portraiture at Eighth and G streets NW, Washington DC. It is open Wednesday to Sunday, 11:30 a.m.–7 p.m. Visitors enter and exit through the G Street entrance. Smithsonian Information: (202) 633-1000.