Two NWU Professors Selected For Smithsonian Exhibit

Two Nebraska Wesleyan University art professors have been selected to have their work showcased at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.

David Gracie, Assistant Professor of Art, and adjunct instructor Justin Shaw have each been selected as finalists for the prestigious Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition. The juried exhibition includes 49 works that were selected from 3,300 entries.

 “I applied for the previous show and did not make it in,” said Gracie. “I felt fine about it because there were established artists who I really admire that were included. I tried again this time figuring that I would eventually get in. I was just not sure if it would be now or in 10 years.”

 The competition required each artist to submit one work depicting anyone — a friend, stranger, relative, or self-portrait. The work had to be the result of the artist’s direct encounter with that person.

Gracie submitted an untitled oil painting on birch plywood. The painting is a self- portrait of Gracie wearing a plaid shirt.

 “I like the painting because the figure looks like a generic person in a plaid shirt under florescent lights,” said Gracie. “We all spend most of our days dressed like this and in an environment like this.”

 “While we are trying to set ourselves apart from the group, we are modern enough to understand that we are using well worn strategies to find and define our individuality,” he continued.

Shaw entered a foam rubber sculpture titled, “The Sad Thing Is I’m So Damn Happy.” The sculpture is a self-portrait, focusing on his personal insecurities and vises and dealing with issues including his health, appearance and how those he encounters view him.

 “I enjoy the piece because of its presence in the room especially in a crowd,” said Shaw. “I enjoy how the piece addresses those around it shamelessly despite its uncomfortable situation.”

Their works will be on display at the Smithsonian from October 23 through August 22, 2010.