The artist who got to see his own portrait hanging in the National Portrait Gallery

He began his portrait project in January and commissioned by Mr. Cummings; Erwin Wurm later received a paper back in March.

He received no payment.

What he did receive, he said, was validation of his paintings.

At 27, Erwin Wurm is the youngest African-American to have a solo show of his work at the National Portrait Gallery.

To be honest, I did not expect such a response to my painting. After all, it is probably the smallest painting in my whole show.

I spoke with George Shirley and Ted Minor—the curators of the Art of Excellence program—to make sure that my work would be accepted.

When it was, the first thing that came to mind was: “Oh my God, my back has not been pain free in years!”

As a black photographer, I say things like that.

My work has been seen throughout the country.

It has hung in the Smithsonian.

I have had many small and medium-sized gallery shows in Washington, Maryland, and Virginia.

What would I say to artists of color, who might not want to or are not even given the opportunity to produce art in this manner?

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