Thursday, May 24 , 2018, 7:19 am | Fog/Mist 58º


Westmont Alumnus Recognized by Prestigious Smithsonian Award

Westmont alumnus Joel Daniel Phillips standing before two of his portraits. Click to view larger
Westmont alumnus Joel Daniel Phillips standing before two of his portraits.  (Westmont photo)

Joel Daniel Phillips's "Eugene #4"

The Smithsonian Institution National Portrait Gallery (NPG) has recognized Westmont alumnus Joel Daniel Phillips (Class of ’11) for his submission to the Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition, the most prestigious portrait competition in the United States.

Phillips's portrait, “Eugene #4,” a 6-foot-tall charcoal and graphite on paper, is one of seven chosen to win a prize at the opening awards March 10, 2016.

More than 2,500 artists submitted portraits for the triennial, juried exhibition, which awards $25,000 to the first-prize winner as well as a commission to create a portrait of a living individual for the museum’s permanent collection.

“Most of my subjects are individuals whom society has a tendency to bypass or overlook,” Phillips says. “This body of work started as an exploration of my particular street corner, a corner which many San Franciscans avoid due to its visible homelessness, drug abuse, refuse and other social ills.”

Phillips has been working and living as a fine artist in the Bay Area since graduating. He’s enjoyed a string of successes, including one-man shows in San Francisco and Oslo, Norway. His work is currently on display at the Miami Project in Miami.

“Eugene #4” will be included in the exhibition at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery (NPG) from March 12, 2016, through Jan. 8, 2017. It will then travel to four host museums across the country from February 2017 through August 2018.

“I was drawn to Eugene because he seems to carry an unavoidable dignity despite his circumstances,” Phillips says. “He contains a deep melancholy that is both tragic and compelling. I sat down with him on the sidewalk before shooting the reference images that became this drawing. Eugene told me how he ended up becoming homeless, and said simply: ‘My mother died, my father died, and my brother died. That was a bad year — my brother was a good man.’

“When I first graduated from Westmont I quite honestly felt I had a lot of catching up to do. Most of my peers who went to art schools graduated with an applicable and polished set of technical skills — something that Westmont’s limited amount of art courses and heavy emphasis on general education courses didn’t seem to cater to," Phillips said. "In the time since, however, I have realized time and again that the technical skills are easier to learn outside of college, and the broader brushstrokes of humanities, critical thinking and writing are much more valuable and have proven to be unique commodities.”

Scott Craig is the manager of media relations for Westmont College.


Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Supporter

Enter your email
Select your membership level

Payment Information

You are purchasing:

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >