Oakland County teen wins National Portrait Gallery contest for teens

An Oakland County teenager is the overall winner of a national portrait photo contest and will have his photo displayed at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC

Otto Graunewald of Rochester won the 13-15 age category of the museum’s Teen Portrait Competition. His black-and-white portrait, titled “Trapped,” shows him staring straight into the camera with gauze around his head. Graunewald suffers from generalized epilepsy and uses photography to communicate the challenges he faces.

The competition is inspired by the Outwin Boocher portrait competition.

“The Teenage Portrait Competition allows the National Portrait Gallery to engage with aspiring artists, giving teenagers a platform to share their ideas about the genre of portraiture with the world,” said Leslie Ureña, curator of the gallery’s photographs, in a press release. “As with the Outwin Boocher Portrait Contest, the submissions provided insight into our recent history. It was truly wonderful to see how teenagers are engaging with the world and using portraiture to explore the themes that affect their lives and that of those around them.

Graunewald beat about 300 entries from 22 states across the country. Sara Sonnenblic from Florida won the grand prize in the 16-17 age category with a portrait titled “Neither this nor that”, depicting a young man in a pink dress.

The portraits of Graunweald and Sonnenblic will be exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery from July 29 to February 26. They will be located near “The Outwin 2022: American Portraiture Today” exhibit.

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Julia P. Cluff