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What is Portraiture?

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The Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery opens a "call for entries" for the third annual Teen Portrait Competition. Artists between the ages of 13 and 17 may electronically submit portraits to the juried competition in the medium of painting and drawing, photography, and video through Wednesday, October 30 2015. The grand-prize portrait will be printed and displayed at the National Portrait Gallery in 2016.



Local teenagers designed the competition for their peers under the supervision of the museum's education department. The teenagers, ages 13 to 17, worked on planning, creating and marketing the competition. Vivian Bauer, a sophomore in high school, worked on the Teen Design Team and said she likes the Teen Portrait Competition because "it brings teenagers from all over the country to recognize the National Portrait Gallery." The competition was designed to introduce teenagers to the concept of representing "for teens, by teens" through portraiture.

The theme for entries is interact and interaction.

Interactverb: in·ter·act \in - ter -'akt\: to talk or do things with other people: to act together: to come together and have an effect on each other.

Interactionnoun: in·ter·ac·tion \in - ter -'ak - shen\: mutual or reciprocal action or influence.


Portraiture implies an interaction between the sitter (person in the portrait) and the spectator (person viewing the portrait). Portraiture can also imply an interaction with the setting, with only you or with others, or about an experience. "We are looking for portraits that share the theme of interaction and we want the competition to be available to all teens nationwide," said Blair Kirkbaumer, Teen Programs Coordinator for the National Portrait Gallery.

This program has been made possible through the generous support of The Honorable Richard Blumenthal and Mrs. Cynthia M. Blumenthal, Capital Group Companies Charitable Foundation, and the Reinsch Family Education Endowment.



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Click here to enter the Competition

Entries accepted from
July 1 through
October 30, 2015