Breonna Taylor Portrait To Be Displayed At Smithsonian Museum

Sep 16, 2021 at 2:00 pm
Amy Sherald, Breonna Taylor, 2020
Amy Sherald, Breonna Taylor, 2020

Louisville’s 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 Obama’s 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 Smithsonian’s Museum of African American History and Culture

Taylor’s portrait was previously displayed in Louisville’s 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 Smithsonian’s 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, NMAAHC’s 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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