The Outwin: American Portraiture Today

The Outwin: American Portraiture Today

KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI—September 27, 2017—Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art is honored to be the only Midwest venue to host The Outwin: American Portraiture Today, an exhibition on view at Kemper Museum October 5, 2017 through January 7, 2018. Every three years, the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery invites artists across America to investigate the art of portraiture through the Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition. Established in 2006, it is the premier national competition celebrating excellence and innovation in portraiture.  

Jurors of the Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition selected 43 winning works from more than 2,500 entries. The featured artists tackle topics of pertinent cultural and political significance, including investigations of race and gender, the fragility of childhood in our increasingly complicated world, and the psychological impact of migration. 

“At a time when creating empathy and understanding among people is a pressing cultural imperative, 'The Outwin: American Portraiture Today' offers a very special opportunity to the citizens of and visitors to Kansas City,” said Barbara O’Brien, Executive Director of Kemper Museum. “The more than 40 artists, whose work is on view, build a bridge of understanding across the cultural landscape of gender, class, race, and opportunity.” 

As the artists demonstrate a mastery over their chosen mediums, they express their convictions and reveal the diversity of experiences that connect us—as individuals, as communities, and as a nation. First place winner Amy Sherald draws on her experiences as an African American growing up in Columbus, Georgia while using her work to confront the psychological effects of stereotypical imagery on African American subjects. Second place winner Cynthia Henebry explores the relationship between order and chaos in the internal lives of children and adults. Third place winner Joel Daniel Phillips pays tribute to individuals who live on the margins of society. The Kemper Museum is proud to present these and all of the artists whose contemporary portraiture is included in The Outwin

This exhibition has been organized by the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery. The competition and exhibition have been made possible by generous support from the Virginia Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition Endowment. Local principal underwriting was provided by The Richard J. Stern Foundation for the Arts, and the William T. Kemper Foundation, Commerce Bank Trustee.  

The community is invited to attend a free pre-opening talk at the Kansas City Public Library Plaza Branch, Wednesday, October 4, 6:30—7:30 p.m. Curator Dorothy Moss shares her experience jurying and organizing the National Portrait Gallery’s 2016 Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition, and first place winning artist Amy Sherald (also a Kemper Museum Permanent Collection artist) provides insight into her wildly popular portraits. The talk is free and reservations are required. Visit to register. 

Image Credit:  
Amy Sherald, Miss Everything (Unsuppressed Deliverance), 2013, oil on canvas, 54 × 43 1/8 × 2 1/2 inches. Collection of Frances and Burton Reifler, © Amy Sherald.


Kansas City’s renowned FREE contemporary art museum, Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art opened in October 1994 and draws 100,000 visitors each year. The Museum boasts a rapidly growing Permanent Collection that uniquely bridges modern and contemporary works of art featuring artists such as Louise Bourgeois, Helen Frankenthaler, Willem de Kooning, Georgia O’Keeffe, Keltie Ferris, Trenton Doyle Hancock, Richard Mosse, and Ursula von Rydingsvard. Special exhibitions, installations, lectures, as well as youth, teen, and family programs and workshops are hosted at the Museum regularly.

The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery tells the multifaceted story of America through the individuals who have shaped its culture. Through 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 American story. The National Portrait Gallery is part of the Donald W. Reynolds Center for American Art and Portraiture, located at Eighth and F Streets N.W., Washington, D.C.

The competition is named for Virginia Outwin Boochever (1920–2005), a former Portrait Gallery docent whose generous gift has endowed this program. Mrs. Boochever delighted Portrait Gallery visitors with her knowledge of the art works, especially of the subjects' lives and times, and continued as a docent for nearly two decades. She saw the endowment of a portrait competition at the National Portrait Gallery as a way to benefit artists directly. Her knowledge of the portrait museums of England, Scotland, and Australia allowed her to understand the role their competitions play in encouraging portraiture, and she saw the endowment as a unique opportunity to fill a void in the American art world.

Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art (4420 Warwick Blvd.) is open 10:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m., Tuesday–Wednesday; 10:00 a.m.–9:00 p.m., Thursday–Friday; and 10:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m., Saturday–Sunday.
Café Sebastienne serves lunch 11:00 a.m.–2:30 p.m., Tuesday–Saturday; dinner 5:30–9:00 p.m., Thursday–Friday; and brunch 11:00 a.m.–2:30 p.m., Sunday. The Museum and Café are closed on Mondays and major holidays.
Kemper at the Crossroads (33 W. 19th Street) is open 10:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m., Wednesday–Thursday; 10:00 a.m.–9:00 p.m., Friday; noon–4:00 p.m., Saturday.
Kemper East (200 E. 44th Street) are open 10:00 a.m.–5:30 p.m., Tuesday–Friday; 10:00 a.m.–2:00 p.m.,
Saturday. Admission is free at all three Kemper Museum locations.


For more information about Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, visit
For high-resolution images or media inquiries please contact:
Breeze Richardson, Director of Marketing and Communications | 816-457-6132