WASHINGTON, DC.- The Smithsonians National Portrait Gallery
has announced artist Alison Elizabeth Taylor as the first-prize winner of the sixth national Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition. Her prizewinning artwork Anthony Cuts under the Williamsburg Bridge, Morning (2020) depicts Brooklyn, New York-based hair groomer Anthony Payne in a process that Taylor developed and named marquetry hybrid. Using vivid paints, inkjet prints and the natural grains of over 100 veneers, Taylor created the multilayered portrait after encountering Payne in her Brooklyn neighborhood. With his workplace shuttered as a result of the pandemic, Payne was offering donation-based haircuts to support Black Lives Matter, and Taylor was struck by the way he embodied perseverance and solidarity. She made drawings of him from life and used those, along with photographs, to develop the portraits composition. Anthony Cuts under the Williamsburg Bridge, Morning will be on view as part of The Outwin 2022: American Portraiture Today, cocurated by the competitions director Taína Caragol, curator of painting, sculpture, and Latinx art and history, and Leslie Ureña, curator of photographs.
Held every three years, the Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition is dedicated to supporting artists from across the United States, Puerto Rico, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, American Samoa and the U.S. Virgin Islands. This years competition will include a touring exhibition featuring the 42 portraits that were selected in blind fashion by a jury from more than 2,700 open-call entries. The Outwin 2022: American Portraiture Today will be on view at the Portrait Gallery April 30 through Feb. 26, 2023.
As winner of the first prize, Taylor, a resident of Brooklyn, will receive $25,000 and a commission to create a portrait of a living individual for the museums permanent collection. The previous first-prize winners are David Lenz (2006), Dave Woody (2009), Bo Gehring (2013), Amy Sherald (2016) and Hugo Crosthwaite (2019).
Second prize was awarded to Tom Jones of Madison, Wisconsin, who submitted a photograph embellished with beads, rhinestones and shells titled Elizah Leonard (from the series Strong Unrelenting Spirits) (2019).
Third prize was awarded to Pao Houa Her of Blaine, Minnesota, for her photograph featuring a man of Hmong descent, untitled (man) (2019).
Commended artists are:
▪ Elsa María Meléndez of Caguas, Puerto Rico, for her textile-based work Milk (2020)
▪ Collaborators Joel Daniel Phillips and Quraysh Ali Lansana of Tulsa, Oklahoma, for their multimedia portrait comprising a drawing entitled Killed Negative #13 / After Arthur Rothstein (from the series Killing the Negative) and the poem hospitality (2020)
▪ Stuart Robertson of Lawrence Township, New Jersey, for his mixed-media Self Portrait of the Artist (from the series Out and Bad) (2020)
▪ Vincent Valdez of Houston for his oil on canvas People of the Sun (Grandma and Grandpa Santana) (2019)
One exhibiting artist will also win the Peoples Choice Award, which will be announced in late October. Visitors will be able to cast a vote for their favorite finalists online.
Every Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition provides new insights into contemporary culture, so it is not surprising to see representative art that documents a spectrum of emotions and responses to the pandemic," said Kim Sajet, director of the National Portrait Gallery. "Alison Elizabeth Taylor's winning portrait is an especially powerful example of how people turned everyday tasks into shared moments of resilience and hope that made us stronger as a community."
This years exhibition addresses themes of the COVID-19 pandemic, demands for social justice, personal isolation, familial ties, community support, love and loss. On Sept. 10, Washington, D.C.-based artist Holly Bass will premiere a seven-hour live performance titled American Woman as a complement to her video work in the exhibition. The performance will take place from 11:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. in the museums historic Great Hall. Winning artworks from the competitions teen edition, organized by the Portrait Gallerys Teen Museum Council, will be installed in late summer 2022.
Jurors for the 2022 competition were Kathleen Ash-Milby, curator of Native American art, Portland Art Museum, Oregon; Catherine Opie, artist, professor of photography and chair of the art department at the University of California, Los Angeles; Ebony G. Patterson, artist, Chicago and Kingston, Jamaica; and John Yau, poet, critic and professor of critical studies, Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers University, New Jersey. The Portrait Gallerys curators Caragol, Ureña and Dorothy Moss, curator of painting and sculpture, also served on the committee. The exhibition will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalog available at the museums store or online.
The competition and exhibition are made possible by the Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition Endowment, which was established by Virginia Outwin Boochever, a longtime docent at the National Portrait Gallery. The endowment is sustained by her family.