National Portrait Gallery Opens Call for Triennial Portrait Competition

by Jessica Fuentes November 22, 2023

The National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. is inviting artists from across the U.S. to submit portraits to be considered for its seventh triennial Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition.

The Outwin was launched in 2006 using funds from the Virginia Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition Endowment, which was established by Mrs. Boochever (1920-2005), who served as a docent at the National Portrait Gallery for nearly twenty years. Initially the competition only accepted paintings, photographs, drawings, and sculpture, however, more recently it has grown to include performance art, fiber works, and time-based media. Last year, four Texas artists, Rigoberto González, Mari Hernandez, Marianna T. Olague, and Vincent Valdez, were among the 42 artists selected for The Outwin 2022.

A large-scale painting by Rigoberto A. Gonzalez of a young family who are about to climb a ladder to cross the Mexico-U.S. border.

Rigoberto A. Gonzalez, “Refugees Crossing the Border Wall into South Texas,” 2020, oil on linen, 6 x 5 feet. Varmar Private Collection

The competition is open to artists who are at least 18 years old and live and work in the U.S., Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, or the Northern Mariana Islands. Artists may only submit one artwork, created between January 1, 2022 and January 26, 2024, for consideration. Two-dimensional works, including frames, should not be larger than seven feet tall or wide or eight inches in depth, while three-dimensional works should not exceed seven feet tall or wide or four feet in depth. Learn more about additional guidelines here.

Jurors for the 2025 competition include artists Daniel Lind-Ramos and LaToya Ruby Frazier; Carla Acevedo-Yates, the Marilyn and Larry Fields Curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Huey Copeland, BFC Presidential Associate Professor of the History of Art at the University of Pennsylvania; Taína Caragol, who serves as the Competition Director and Co-Curator, and is the Curator of Painting, Sculpture, and Latinx Art and History at the National Portrait Gallery; Charlotte Ickes, who serves as the Competition Co-Curator, and is the Curator of Time-Based Media and Special Projects, National Portrait Gallery; Rhea L. Combs, the Director of Curatorial Affairs at the National Portrait Gallery.

All Outwin finalists’ works will be exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery from April 26, 2025 through February 22, 2026. A first-prize winner will receive $25,000 and be awarded a commission to portray a significant living American for the National Portrait Gallery’s permanent collection. A second-prize winner will receive $10,000, and a third-prize winner will receive $7,500. During the run of the exhibition, the general public will vote on a People’s Choice Award recipient, who will receive $1,000.

The deadline to submit a portrait for consideration is Friday, January 26, 2024. Learn more about the submission process and submit your work via the Portrait Competition webpage.

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