Witt’s Own Finalist in Smithsonian Portrait Competition

Daniel McInnis, professor of art, has been named a finalist in the triennial Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, the Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition. Every third year, the competition receives about 2,500 entries. Submissions opened in Aug. 2014 and closed that following November. In April, McInnis was notified that he was a semi-finalist and had his work sent to Washington, D.C.

In Sept. 2015, McInnis received a note that he was a finalist and that his work would be among 43 other portraits in the 2016 exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery. The work will also tour three additional venues. “I feel very fortunate and lucky,” he said.

Not only is he a finalist, but McInnis was also one of seven candidates short-listed for the grand prize — a total of $25,000 and a commission to create a portrait of a famous, living American.

“The talent at the top seven in pretty amazing,” McInnis said.

McInnis started as a visual arts, film and photography student as an undergraduate at Ithaca College. “I took photographs in college but I was a little shy about it,” McInnis said. Later, he found his mentor and respected portrait photographer Richard Renaldi. “He looked at my work and gave me good advice.”

No doubt he took Renaldi’s advice. The photo he entered into the competition is of alum, Lillian Hill ’15, and Heidi Rotroff ‘16.  McInnis said he was inspired by their friendship despite their style and personality contrasts.

“I think it speaks to my love at looking and a thirst for diversity. It makes me sad when everyone dresses the same,” McInnis said. “People’s lives are a bit more rich when we’ve got different people around.”

“I’ve been thinking a lot about why this was picked,” he said, indicating that it might have been the display of diversity or the celebration of friendship. “One of their primary themes is diversity,” he said, and not only the expression of racial diversity but diversity of media as well. The Outwin Boochever Competition, named for Virginia Outwin Boochever who left an endowment for the competition when she died in 2005, was created to fill a void in portraiture competitions in the United States. The competition is open to any artist working in the U.S. depicting anyone in any visual media, including film.

A relatively-young competition, the exhibit in 2016 will be the third. It is a prestigious portraiture competition and gains notoriety each year.

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