The Director's Essay Prize

young woman with brown hair

The National Portrait Gallery proudly announces the winner of the inaugural Director's Essay Prize, Jennifer Van Horn, PhD, Assistant Professor of Art History and History at the University of Delaware, for her essay, “’The Dark Iconoclast’: African Americans’ Artistic Resistance in the Civil War South.” published in The Art Bulletin, (Volume 99, Issue 4.) 

Jennifer Van Horn presented her essay at the National Portrait Gallery on September 6, 2019 


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Honorable mention to Tara Kohn, PhD, Lecturer in the Department of Comparative Cultural Studies at Northern Arizona University, for her essay “Elevated: Along the Fringes of 291 Fifth Avenue”  published in Panorama: Journal of the Association of Historians of American Art, (Volume 4, Issue 2.)

In honor of the National Portrait Gallery’s 50th anniversary in 2018, the museum announced the Director’s Essay Prize. The biennial award fosters leading research and supports scholars whose expertise includes the field of visual biography and American portraiture. The award includes a cash prize of $3,000 for the author of a published essay that explores and enriches the interdisciplinary nature of American art, biography, history and cultural identity.

The 2019 prize was juried by PORTAL advisors Yunte Huang, PhD, University of California, Santa Barbara; David Lubin, PhD, Wake Forest University; and Lauren Redniss, Parsons the New School for Design. The Director’s Essay Prize is presented by PORTAL = Portraiture + Analysis, the National Portrait Gallery’s Scholarly Center.