Louisvilles Breonna Taylor, a young woman who was killed by police and whose life has become a beacon for the fight against police brutality and racial violence, will have her portrait displayed at the Smithsonian as part of an exhibit exploring the Black Lives Matter movement.
This portrait, by the artist Amy Sherald who also painted Michelle Obamas controversial image, will be on display alongside work from other famous African American artists including Jean Michel-Basquiat, Sheila Pree Bright, Bisa Butler and others. It is part of the Reckoning: Protest. Defiance. Resilience exhibit that started Sept. 10 at the Smithsonians Museum of African American History and Culture.
Taylors portrait was previously displayed in Louisvilles own Speed Art Museum during its Promise, Witness, Remembrance exhibition earlier this year.
In an article for the Smithsonian, Kevin Young, who is the Andrew W. Mellon Director of the Smithsonians National Museum of African American History and Culture, said The show continues to tell the story of the centrality of the Black experience found in the entire museum, while also connecting to our current moment, filled with the twin pandemics of COVID-19 and racism and an ongoing renaissance of Black art and artistry.
It is important that Taylor is displayed alongside these other works that define and elucidate the Black experience in the United States. She is a symbol of justice, and in the way that Sherald painted her with hints of Lady Liberty, it is important to see Taylor in this respect, as she is viewed by many as an equally important figure in the Black American quest for true freedom and equity. The exhibit is dedicated to this ongoing struggle and gives Black artists the space to connect with their communities in a direct way that sometimes is outside the aspirations to be simply a great artist in America.
The exhibition seeks to forge connections between the Black Lives Matter protests, racial violence, grief and mourning, hope and change, said Tuliza Fleming, NMAAHCs chief curator of visual arts and lead curator of the Reckoning exhibition in the Smithsonian article.
The portrait hangs in the Visual Art and the American Experience Gallery at the NMAAHC.
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