National Portrait Gallery Announces Winners of the Museum’s National 2022 Teen Portrait Competition

July 19, 2022
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Two self-portraits of, displayed side by side. One is in a pink shirt, the other has their head wrapped in a bandage.

Credit: “Nor This Nor That” by Sara Sonnenblick, inkjet print, 2022. Courtesy of artist (L). 
“Trapped” by Otto Grunewald, inkjet print, 2022. Courtesy of artist (R). 

The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery has announced Sara Sonnenblick of Florida and Otto Graunewald of Michigan as the grand-prize winners of the museum’s nationwide Teen Portrait Competition. Inspired by the museum’s triennial Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition, the Teen Portrait Competition is open to students between the ages of 13 and 17 residing in the U.S. and its territories. It yielded eight finalists, with Sonnenblick and Graunewald winning the top prize in their respective age categories. Their grand prize-winning photographs will be on view in the Portrait Gallery from July 29 through Feb. 26, 2023.  

This year, teens were invited to submit portraits in the medium of photography, and the competition received almost 300 entries from 22 states and Washington, D.C. The photographs were reviewed by the Portrait Gallery’s Curator of Photographs Leslie Ureña and the Teen Museum Council, a group of high school students from Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia who aim to increase teen engagement with the museum by creating interactive programs and events inspired by the Portrait Gallery’s collection. 

“The Teen Portrait Competition allows the National Portrait Gallery to engage with budding artists, providing teens a platform to share with the world their ideas about the genre of portraiture,” Ureña said. “As with the Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition, the submissions provided a glimpse of our recent history. It was truly wonderful to see how teens are engaging with the world, and using portraiture to explore the themes that are affecting their lives and that of those around them.”  

Sonnenblick won the category for ages 16–17 with a portrait titled “Nor This Nor That.” The photograph, which depicts a young man wearing an open pink silk robe, invites viewers to explore the ideas of “femininity” and “masculinity.” Grunewald’s black-and-white self-portrait “Trapped” won the category for ages 13–15. The artist, who has generalized epilepsy disorder, uses photography to communicate expressively about the challenges he faces. All eight finalists explore identity through the eyes of teens in the United States today and address themes ranging from gender, race and body image to the conditions of U.S. workers, as well as crimes committed against Indigenous women. 

The two prize-winning photographs will be displayed at the Portrait Gallery near the “The Outwin 2022: American Portraiture Today” exhibition, which showcases portraits by finalists of the triennial Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition who are 18 and older. Both competitions celebrate the art of contemporary portraiture. Artwork by all eight teen finalists will be featured on the Portrait Gallery’s website.  

More information on the Teen Portrait Competition and the Portrait Gallery’s related programming, including teen-led tours and activities, is available.

People’s Choice Award 

The public can vote for their favorite finalist from the 2022 Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition now through Oct. 16. The People’s Choice Award is bestowed upon the artist with the most votes at the end of the voting period, and the awardee receives $500. The winner will be announced late October. Visitors are able to cast a vote for their favorite finalists online.

Portraiture Festival

The National Portrait Gallery will host a Portraiture Festival Saturday, Sept. 10, from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Kogod Courtyard and around the museum. The community celebration will welcome visitors of all ages to enjoy workshops and talks with artists featured in “The Outwin 2022” exhibition, including a live performance by artist Holly Bass. Visitors can learn about the Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition, make art and explore identity through portraiture in this free public program.

National Portrait Gallery

The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery tells the multifaceted story of the United States through the individuals who have shaped American culture. Spanning the visual arts, performing arts and new media, the Portrait Gallery portrays poets and presidents, visionaries and villains, actors and activists whose lives tell the nation’s story.         

The National Portrait Gallery is located at Eighth and G streets N.W., Washington, D.C. Smithsonian Information: (202) 633-1000. Connect with the museum at, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube

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