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The National Portrait Gallery announces the winners of the Outwin Boolever Portrait Competition

The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery has announced artist Alison Elizabeth Taylor as the first prize winner of the sixth Outwin Boochever National Portrait Competition. His award-winning work “Anthony Cuts under the Williamsburg Bridge, Morning” (2020) depicts Brooklyn, New York-based hairstylist Anthony Payne in a process that Taylor developed and called “inlay hybrid.” Using vivid paints, inkjet prints and the natural grains of over 100 veneers, Taylor created the multi-layered portrait after meeting Payne who was offering donation-based haircuts to support Black Lives Matter despite the closure of own workplace by pandemic. The first-prize portrait will be presented as part of “The Outwin 2022: American Portraiture Today,” co-curated by competition director Taína Caragol, curator of painting, sculpture, and art and history. Latinx, and Leslie Ureña, curator of photographs. The exhibition will be presented at the Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC, from April 30 to February 26, 2023, and is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalog.

Held every three years, the Outwin Boocher Portrait Contest is dedicated to supporting artists from the United States, Puerto Rico, Guam, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, American Samoa and the US Virgin Islands. This year’s competition will include a traveling exhibition showcasing the 42 portraits selected by a jury from more than 2,700 open entries. The resulting exhibition addresses themes such as the COVID-19 pandemic, demands for social justice, personal isolation, family ties, community support, love and loss.

As the first prize winner, Brooklyn resident Alison Elizabeth Taylor will receive $25,000 and a commission to create a portrait of a living individual for the museum’s permanent collection. Previous top prize winners are David Lenz (2006), Dave Woody (2009), Bo Gehring (2013), Amy Sherald (2016) and Hugo Crosthwaite (2019). This year, the second prize was awarded to Tom Jones of Madison, Wisconsin, who submitted a photograph incorporating pearls, shells and rhinestones, entitled “Elizah Leonard” (from the series “Strong Unrelenting Spirits”) (2019) . The third prize was awarded to Pao Houa Her from Blaine, Minnesota, for his photograph “untitled (male)” (2019).

The artists honored this year are Elsa María Meléndez from Caguas, Puerto Rico, for “Milk” (2020); collaborators Joel Daniel Phillips and Quraysh Ali Lansana of Tulsa, Oklahoma, for their multimedia portrait featuring a drawing entitled “Killed Negative #13 / After Arthur Rothstein” (from the “Killing the Negative” series) and the poem “Hospitality” (2020) ; Stuart Robertson of Lawrence Township, New Jersey, for “Self-Portrait of the Artist” (from the “Out and Bad” series) (2020); and Vincent Valdez from Houston, Texas, for “People of the Sun (Grandma and Grandpa Santana)” (2019).

Museum visitors and online viewers will be able to vote in line for their favorite finalist to receive the People’s Choice Award from April 30 through October 16. The winning works of the teen edition of the competition, organized by the Portrait Gallery’s Teenage Museum Boardwill be installed at the end of summer 2022.

The jurors for the 2022 Competition were Kathleen Ash-Milby, Catherine Opie, Ebony G. Patterson and John Yau, and Portrait Gallery curators Caragol, Ureña and Dorothy Moss.

The competition and exhibition are made possible by the Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition Endowment, which was created by long-time National Portrait Gallery guide Virginia Outwin Boochever. The endowment is maintained by his family.