Portrait Gallery Competition Finalist

Wittenberg Professor Daniel McInnis Named Finalist In Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery Competition

Springfield, Ohio – Daniel McInnis, associate professor of photography, department of art, has been selected as a finalist in the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition (OBPC).

McInnis, who teaches courses in introduction to photography, advanced photography, digital imaging, and history of photography and documentary film, submitted a portrait for the first time in the competition, and it was selected as one of seven artworks shortlisted for the fourth occasion of the OBPC.

The competition received more than 2,500 entries in a variety of visual arts media. McInnis’ work is among 43 pieces that will be on display for the juried exhibition at the museum from March 12, 2016, until Jan. 8, 2017, before it goes on display at three other museums across the United States in 2017 and 2018. The exhibition’s pieces include sculptures, mixed-media works, photographs, paintings and drawings.

The competition was open to artists working in the United States who had created portraits after Jan. 1, 2014, in any visual art form. The artwork had to be a portrait that engaged directly with the subject when it was made, and each artist could only submit one work.

“It's hard to describe what this means to me,” McInnis said. “I was very honored to be a semi-finalist when I found out in March. It was then that I had to send the actual framed piece to the Smithsonian. Then it went to the finalist round and I was hopeful, but I knew it was very competitive. In September, the Smithsonian contacted me, and I was not only a finalist, but one of seven shortlisted for the main prize. I was stunned.

“I am deeply honored and excited to be a part of the most prestigious portrait competition in the U.S.”

The competition takes place every three years and is made possible by benefactor Virginia Outwin Boochever, a former gallery docent who volunteered at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery for 19 years. She passed away in 2005 and left a generous endowment to the Smithsonian to start a triennial competition that honors contemporary American portraiture in all mediums.

The first-prize winner will receive $25,000, as well as a commission to create a portrait of a living individual for the museum’s permanent collection. Winners will be announced at the press preview, slated for March 10, 2016, in Washington D.C.

McInnis submitted a double portrait of two Wittenberg students in the art department - Heidi Rotroff ’16 and Lillian Hill ‘15.

“They are fast friends, and continue to be, even though Lillian graduated last year,” he said. “I was struck by the diversity of their aesthetics, their looks, and yet still had such an obvious bond as friends. I think (hope) that friendship comes across in the image. I wanted to highlight the bond between two women - as there is often too much in the media about women not getting along with each other.

“I also frankly wanted to celebrate the diversity of race between the two students, as diversity should continue to be a part of Wittenberg's mission,” he added. “Diversity and race are very important issues to me.”

McInnis said that competition is an important part of the Wittenberg Art Department's research and publication and studio faculty regularly submit their work to local, regional and national competitions.

“I have entered more works into more competitions than I can count,” he said. “Publication and recognition are constant processes that all faculty face. I started teaching college in 1995, and this is definitely the biggest professional honor for me so far. The talent in the OBPC is simply staggering. My next goal is to publish a monograph of my portraits - that will be an honor all on its own.”

Cindy Holbrook
Cindy Holbrook
Senior Communications Assistant

About Wittenberg

Wittenberg's curriculum has centered on the liberal arts as an education that develops the individual's capacity to think, read, and communicate with precision, understanding, and imagination. We are dedicated to active, engaged learning in the core disciplines of the arts and sciences and in pre-professional education grounded in the liberal arts. Known for the quality of our faculty and their teaching, Wittenberg has more Ohio Professors of the Year than any four-year institution in the state. The university has also been recognized nationally for excellence in community service, sustainability, and intercollegiate athletics. Located among the beautiful rolling hills and hollows of Springfield, Ohio, Wittenberg offers more than 100 majors, minors and special programs, enviable student-faculty research opportunities, a unique student success center, service and study options close to home and abroad, a stellar athletics tradition, and successful career preparation.

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