Speed Art Museum Features Notable Portrait of Breonna Taylor
Curator Allison Glenn knew “it felt right” to take on an exhibition at Speed Art Museum in Louisville, Ky., honoring Breonna Taylor, and the stories of other Black people who lost their lives to gun violence, when she learned that Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer, and other family members would be involved.
Stephen Reily, director of the Speed Art Museum, told Glenn in their initial conversation that Palmer “would be a really pivotal voice in the development of the exhibition and the right curator would understand and respect that,” Glenn says.
That felt right to her. “To me, [Palmer] felt like the most important stakeholder,” says Glenn, who is associate curator of contemporary art at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Ark.
The exhibition—titled “Promise, Witness, Remembrance”—opens at the Speed on April 7 and will feature about 30 works of art, notably a portrait of Taylor painted by American artist Amy Sherald for the September cover of Vanity Fair. Taylor died at age 26 on March 13, 2020, after being shot by Louisville police during a raid on her apartment.
The portrait by Sherald, featuring Taylor in a flowing aquamarine dress, may be acquired by the Speed, Kentucky’s oldest and largest museum, jointly with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, which plans to exhibit it later this year. The two institutions currently are “in talks” about the acquisition, according to a press statement by the Smithsonian.
The Ford Foundation has given US$1.25 million toward the purchase and exhibition of the painting. News reports have also named a foundation formed by Steven Spielberg and his wife, Kate Capshaw, as contributing to the purchase.