I’m Lizzie Stein, intern for the Department of Painting and Sculpture at the National Portrait Gallery. I work for Chief Curator Brandon Fortune and Assistant Curator of Painting and Sculpture Dorothy Moss, who is also director of the Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition.
In the upcoming months, we will introduce some of our finalists through our blog series Portrait of an Artist, which will run throughout the exhibition (March 23, 2013– February 23, 2014). Be on the lookout for interviews with the finalists and images of their work.
This is the third Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition, a program generously endowed by and named for Virginia Outwin Boochever (1920–2005), a former National Portrait Gallery volunteer. The competition invites American artists to submit portraits in all media that result from direct encounters with their subjects. Last fall the Portrait Gallery received more than 3,000 electronic entries from artists in all fifty states.
From this pool of online submissions, a jury of artists, critics, and art historians came together in March to select a group of semifinalists. When I began my internship in May, the semifinalists had already been notified, and it was my job to collect a statement from each artist. In the upcoming exhibition, these artist statements will accompany the artwork, so that visitors can read about the artists’ inspirations, their relationships to the subjects, and their techniques.
In a multimedia exhibition as dynamic as the Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition, these narratives will help visitors navigate the exhibition and gain a more complete understanding of the works. Portrait of an Artist is designed to go one step further to help our online audience get to know a select group of finalists through an informal, interactive forum.
Last month the judges met again to view the semifinalist submissions in person and select the finalists, all of whom will be included in the exhibition. They carefully and methodically reviewed each piece and chose a strong group of forty-eight portraits. From these, they then selected seven prizewinners: first, second, and third place, and four honorable mentions. The prizewinners will be announced at a private opening event in March, and visitors will vote for a people’s choice award during the run of the exhibition.
After working with these artists and their portraits for several months, I have come to know the works very well and am enthusiastic about the selected finalists and prizewinners. I can’t wait to see the final exhibition installed and the way that the different portraits will speak to one another. You will see everything from traditional oil paintings to videos and a sculpture made entirely of rice!
Helping with the Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition 2013 has been a wonderful experience thus far, and I look forward to our upcoming preparations. I hope this blog will help our visitors learn more about the competition, the talented finalists, and what it means to create American portraiture today.
I hope you enjoy Portrait of an Artist 2013! Look for new postings each month!