First Time Ever I Saw Your Face – Harlem

The Children’s Art Carnival

Call for Black Women Portraitists
Deadline: Friday, February 9, 2024


I feel more beautiful now than I have ever felt in my life and that feeling comes from something more than my hairstyle change. It comes from having an identity. The foundation of my identity came from embracing my physical and emotional scars and turning my shame into pride. Realizing that I am my own standard gave me confidence. I learned to accept myself, which has allowed for the acceptance of others.”  
– Ebonee Davis

First Time Ever I Saw Your Face portrait project invites 4 local artists from Harlem or  it’s surrounding neighborhoods and of African American or Caribbean descent who are proficient in the portraiture genre to identify a girl or young women of the African diaspora, between the ages of 7-18 to sit for a commissioned portrait.
4 Artists will be selected for the project and will begin their respective portraits in February 2024 and must be completed/delivered to the Children’s Art Carnival Gallery by April for the exhibition.
Artists and muses will receive a fee for their participation. The fee shall include supplies. TCGM is commissioning these portraits as a work for hire contract. Completed portraits will become part of The Colored Girls Museum The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face Collection .

Project Objective:
Black girlhood is a site of great triumph and sometimes trauma. This portrait project focuses on their intersection in visual narratives. Portraits commissioned through Portrait Artists are asked to document their portrait creation process/experience –and the muse will document her experience as well. The project will conclude with video interviews which ideally will be available with the portraits for patrons to view during the tour/exhibition.
First Time Ever I Saw Your Face establishes Black Girlhood as a Triumphant Visual Event – Her portraits /the artist process/ sanctify the exhibition experience – transforming the walls themselves into sites of contemplation, healing, and remembrance.

The Artist Identifies a muse between the ages of 7-18, the muse (and caregivers) should be comfortable sitting for the portrait and having their reactions/responses  to having their portrait created and documented . The Artist will collaborate with the subject i.e., clothing, pose and portrait composition, etc. If there is an object, the subject feels especially connected to the object should be included (if possible) in the portrait. Each muse will receive a framed print of the completed portrait.

Artists submit an online application that includes:

  • A  brief statement about the artist’s muse including their name, age, race, ethnicity, how they are related and why they were chosen.
  • A photo of the artist and their muse
  • Artist Statement
  • Cultural Statement
  • Artist Work samples must be a representation of your artistic work created within the last five years (recommended)
  • The MUSE: The Artist must identify a muse between the ages of 7-18 and must be from the artist’s neighborhood.
  • The Colored Girls Museum and The Children’s Art Carnival will ask the artist to seek releases for girls under the age of 18 from parents /caregivers. Once artist are selected, artist must provide a signed release from parent/ caregiver before project begins.
  • COMPENSATION: Selected Artists will receive $2500 for the completed portrait and muses will receive $500.
  • OWNERSHIP OF FINAL ART: The Colored Girls Museum will own the commissioned portraits which will become a part of the touring exhibition
  • JURY: Artwork will be juried and selected by a panel composed of local artists, arts administrators, and community members.

  • Must be 18 years or over
  • Open to Black, African or Afro Caribbean women and Fem identifying artists
  • Artists must be portrait genre painter or photographer
  • This Exhibition is open to artists residing in West Harlem, Central and East Harlem, Washington Heights, Inwood and the South Bronx.
  • Artists may submit art samples in the form of a website or up to 5 works for consideration.

  • January 5th 2023 – February 9th: Open Call for Artist – First Time Ever I Saw Your Face – Harlem
  • Monday February 19th: Announce selection of 4 artists for portrait exhibition.
  • Monday February 26th Virtual Artist Orientation Session
  • Wednesday February 28th CAC Disburse payments to commissioned artists
  • Friday March 1st: Artists and Muse begin the making of their portraits.
  • Friday April 12th – Artists submit final Artwork
  • Friday April 12th – Friday April 19th – Receive Art from TCGM  
  • Saturday April 20th – Friday April 26th – Install Show @ The Children’s Art Carnival
  • Saturday April 26th – Sunday June 16th – Exhibition Time Frame
  • Saturday April 26th – Exhibition Opening Reception

  • Since 1969, The Children’s Art Carnival has provided arts programs for young people and families in West Harlem and the broader Harlem community. Understanding that the arts are a bridge to learning and to overall competency, CAC’s long-standing objective has been to support the development and growth of participants from early ages through adulthood and to provide creative experiences that will engage young people, their families, and community members. We are equally committed to providing professional development opportunities and resources to early-career and emerging artists from Harlem, New York City, and throughout the region.
  • The Colored Girls Museum (TCGM) is a memoir museum founded by Vashti DuBois that honors the stories, experiences and history of ordinary Colored Girls. The first of its kind, the museum initiates the object—submitted by the Colored Girl herself—as a representative of an aspect of her story and personal history which she finds meaningful. These objects embody her experience and expression of being a Colored Girl. TCGM  distinguishes itself by exclusively collecting, preserving, honoring and decoding artifacts pertaining to the experience and herstory of Colored Girls. This museum is equal parts research facility, exhibition space, gathering place and think tank. TCGM was founded in 2015 and is located in the historic neighborhood of Germantown in Philadelphia, an area renowned for its compliment of historic buildings and homes.

Listing expiration: February 9, 2024.