Florence and Daniel, Baden, National Gallery Exhibit

By Erin Sneller

Oregon State University art instructor Evan Baden’s portrait, “Florence and Daniel” has been selected for display in the National Portrait Gallery at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., as part of the 2016 Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition.

Baden’s work, a 2014 pigment on aluminum print, was among 50 chosen for exhibition. The juried, competitive exhibit was open to U.S. artists who had created portraits after Jan. 1, 2014, in any visual art form, and drew more than 2,500 entries.

“Florence and Daniel” is part of Baden’s series, The Taradiddle High School Yearbook Project (2014–15). The series is an exploration of the intersection of youth and technology, looking at how photographic images are manipulated through social media platforms to construct public personas that often belie the truth.

Baden and high school students in Oregon, Minnesota, and Illinois drew upon real-life teen experiences to create images and a narrative. Like all the images in the series, the portrait of Florence and Daniel blurs the boundary between truth and fiction, public and private.

The subjects, two transgender teens involved in a relationship, are depicted in an intimate interior setting. The privacy of this moment is interrupted by the unwavering outward gaze of the central subject acknowledging the audience, much like carefully staged images shared through social media.

The Smithsonian exhibit opened March 12 and will run through Jan. 8, 2017. The exhibit will then tour the United States, staring at the Tacoma Art Museum in Washington from Feb. 4 through May 4, 2017.

The Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition is held every three years, and was made possible by National Portrait Gallery benefactor Virginia Outwin Boochever, a former Portrait Gallery docent who volunteered there for 19 years.

For more information about the competition, visit: http://portraitcompetition.si.edu. For more information about Baden, visit: http://liberalarts.oregonstate.edu/users/evan-baden.