Every three years, the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery showcases finalists of the Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition, named for a late benefactor. The 2022 edition offers a total of 42 works by American artists spanning a wide range of media and mixed-media as selected out of more than 2,700 submissions by a seven-judge panel.
Alison Elizabeth Taylor garnered First Prize for Anthony Cuts under the Williamsburg Bridge, Morning, a “marquetry hybrid” mixed-media image paying tribute to a hairstylist in the artist’s Brooklyn neighborhood who set up shop on the street as a Black Lives Matter-inspired fundraiser for organizations advocating for social justice.
The Outwin 2022 Second Prize went to Elizah Leonard, a multilayered portrait by Native-American artist Tom Jones of a champion female dancer/wrestler embellished with culturally significant beads, rhinestones, and shells sewed directly onto the print.
Third Prize went to untitled (man), Laotian-American photographer Pao Houa Her’s black-and-white image of a senior citizen who originally emigrated to the U.S. as a Hmong refugee decades ago, seen positioned in front of a printed studio backdrop alongside fake plants.
An additional four mixed-media works earned a Commended, or honorable mention, designation, including Killed Negative #13/After Arthur Rothstein by Joel Daniel Phillips with Quraysh Ali Lansana, Stuart Robertson’s Self-Portrait of the Artist, People of the Sun (Grandma and Grandpa Santana) by Vincent Valdez, and Milk by Elsa María Meléndez.
At least nine of the remaining 35 artworks have some degree of LGBTQ relevance by virtue of either the artist or the artistic content, including:
Dad, at Manmade Pond, a poignant triptych by gay photographer David Hilliard depicting the casket-shaped urn containing the cremains of his father, a victim of COVID-19.
Shira and Sarah, a portrait by Jess T. Dugan of two women facing the camera in a tight, tender embrace.
Darkroom Mirror (0X5A0752), Paul Mpagi Sepuya’s reflected, partly obscured portrait of two naked, intertwined queer Black men, shot in profile in a way making them both visible and anonymous.
Thank you Jesus, for what you are going to do, a 20-minute digital video from the queer, atheistic artist Lois Bielefeld documenting her evangelical Christian mother’s devotional routine and contemplating the ideological rifts between them.
A portrait of the comet boy as a bearer of memories, a complex, abstracted self-portrait by queer Korean-American artist Timothy Hyunsoo Lee.
Wild Flowers, an improvised oil painting by nonbinary artist Maia Cruz Palileo in their signature “tropical gothic” style inspired by and evocative of the resilience of their Filipino ancestors.
Taishya, Riding High over the Ocean of Storms, a portrait of a female friend, posed with a lunar backdrop, part of Paula Gillen’s symbolism-rich series of digital photomontages depicting women in outer space that blends original photography with existing imagery.
On display online and in-person through Feb. 26, 2023.
The National Portrait Gallery is at 8th and F Streets NW.
Call 202-633-8300 or visit www.npg.si.edu.
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