We have all seen portraits—but wait until you visit “The Outwin 2016: American Portraiture Today” at Tacoma Art Museum. The exhibit is composed of 43 innovative works from a Smithsonian competition.
With a dazzling variety of media, including paintings, drawings, photography, sculpture, and mixed media, the portraits explore powerful themes and challenge imaginations. The museum exhibit is on view through May 14.
“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to bring the Smithsonian’s exhibition to TAM and to the region,” said Stephanie Stebich, the now former executive director who was instrumental in bringing the exhibit to Tacoma. “Portraiture is one of TAM’s collecting strengths. Portraits carry meaning that everyone can relate to. These portraits tell stories of national concerns that resonate in Tacoma too.”
Unique stories revealed in the portraits include experiences in family and parenting, fragility of childhood, migration, race and gender, health care, poverty, and at-risk youth. The artists, as one placard states, “reveal the diversity of experiences that connect us.”
Prepare to be impressed by the large-scale works, the unique collections that express an artist’s experience, the diversity in the portraits, and the representations of current national issues. This is a show that inspires thinking on multiple levels. Visitors are invited to vote for their favorite portraits.
First prize in the Smithsonian competition went to Amy Sherald of Baltimore for an oil on canvas titled “Miss Everything (Unsuppressed Deliverance).” The artist grew up in Columbus, Georgia, aware of the “appropriate” behavior expected of her as an African American girl. The girl in the portrait is set on a dreamlike turquoise background. Sherald used light gray paint to “omit” skin color so her subject appears both realistic and otherworldly.
The triennial competition for contemporary portraiture and this Outwin 2016 exhibition are possible because of a gift from the late Virginia Outwin Boochever, a Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery volunteer and benefactor. More than 2,500 artists submitted entries in this fourth iteration of the competition.
This is the first time the show has traveled away from the Smithsonian gallery. Tacoma Art Museum is the first stop and only West Coast stop on a national tour. This is your opportunity to see portraits as you have never seen them before.
For more information, including hours and admission:
TACOMA ART MUSEUM
1701 Pacific Ave
Tacoma, WA 98402