The triennial Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition winners are on display the National Portrait Gallery in Washington DC, and readers will undoubtedly recognize work by friends and colleagues. Of more than 3000 submissions, 48 pieces were selected, including a remarkable large-scale drawing by Ray DiCapua, a faculty member at the University of Connecticut. Although the official competition winners have already been selected, the museum is encouraging participation via phone app in the People’s Choice Awards through September 21.
Working in charcoal on paper, DiCapua’s portraits are finely detailed, hyper-realist images of specific individuals. At his website, DiCapua writes that looking inevitably gets entangled with interpretation.
When I pay careful attention, I notice that many of the ways that I am drawn to interpret my personal and social world—as products of socialization—is at odds with my actual experience. I am interested in bringing this schism into view. To make specific features of our socially constructed world visible is to present opportunities for choice. I am interested in how images can inform and inspire self-reflective awareness and dialog about personal and cultural narratives, identities and worldviews. Through these large charcoal/ink drawings, I explore the interplay between interpretation, recognition, meaning and experience. I look to both evoke and disrupt possible patterns of interpretation. In so doing, I hope to jar awareness into noticing the constructed qualities of how we see, respond to and therefore create and recreate our world(s).
Marie, the woman depicted in the portrait selected for the NPG exhibition, is DiCapua’s wife.
As her husband, I have a distinct vantage on the lifetime of experience comprised in her complex gaze. Yet making this drawing also challenged me to explore aspects of her that extend past my direct experience. Marie is a conflict specialist in the field of international development. Her accounts from volatile, struggling places in our world are embedded in the fragile interplay of recognition and charcoal marks.
mother’s death. In 2004, my mom was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer,
and three months later she died. At the time, I inherited my mentally
disabled sister, Renee. Although Renee is fifty-two, she has the
mind-set of a third-grader. She also has epilepsy. I promised my mother
that when she was no longer able to care for Renee that I would. This
act deepened my depression. I felt overwhelmed and as if I had given up
my life. These paintings express what I felt during that time. They
portray a sense of sadness, grief, and vulnerability. This self-portrait
describes the heaviness I felt.” –Beverly McIver
“My son is a social media and performance artist. Unbeknownst to me, he paid homage to Yoko Ono by writing ‘yes’ on the primed canvas. I decided to keep his affirmation. It can be seen on the back of the loveseat. My father passed in May 2012. In a way, the painting is a collaborative portrait of three generations.” –Bo Bartlett
“The portrait Room and Board is central to two series of my work: Work Drag represents portraits of people dressed in their work clothing/gear; Serial Paintings is a series of the same subject painted repeatedly; the changes across the series reflect notions of the individual while undercutting any sense of a permanent identity.” –Tim Doud
“The Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition 2013,” National Portrait Gallery, Washington, DC. Through February 23, 2014. Don’t forget to download the phone app and vote for the People’s Choice Awards before September 21, 2013.