During a time when we are constrained by rules of distancing, and in some cases, by forced interaction with others, it is uplifting to find an immersive visual experience which reminds us of the innate humanity and captivating presence of the individual. Two exhibitions currently on view at Springfield Museums reveal the intrinsic worth of each person as reflected in portraiture, all within a larger social context manifested in the present day.
The triennial Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition, endowed by the late philanthropist Virginia Outwin Boochever, awards monetary prizes and a commissioned portrait from the first place winner to be included in the collection of the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. In addition to three top prizes, the competition offers commendations, and a “People’s Choice Award” chosen from the pool of finalists. Open to all artists living and working in the United States regardless of citizenship status, The Outwin accepts entries in painting, drawing, sculpture, photography, printmaking, textiles, video, performance and time-based media.
Under the aegis of the Smithsonian Museum, The Outwin has traditionally adhered to a broad basis for consideration, and in 2019 honed its mission by inviting applicants to submit works which respond to the current political and social context. The result is a panoply of original work addressing such issues as immigration, Black Lives Matter, adolescence, the status of American workers, gun violence and LGBTQIA+ rights. The exhibition of almost 50 works by Outwin finalists has traveled from Washington to Springfield Museums, and is on view through April 4.