The larger-than-life painting of killed EMT Breonna Taylor by Baltimore artist Amy Sherald has found a new home. The image of the 26-year-old will now be on display in the nation’s capital, following a joint acquisition in March by the Speed Art Museum in Louisville, Kentucky, and the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture in Washington.
“Breonna Taylor,” a 54 by 43-inch oil-on-linen painting depicting the Kentucky native in a flowing turquoise gown with an engagement ring on her left hand, debuted at the Washington museum’s newest exhibition, “Reckoning: Protest. Defiance. Resilience,” on October 9, 2021.
The exhibition will debut in the museum’s Visual Art and the American Experience section, which will focus on the Black Lives Matter movement, brutality against African-Americans, and how art portrays Black resistance, resilience, and protest.
On March 13, 2020, Taylor was slain after Louisville Metro Police invaded her apartment to carry out a no-knock search warrant. The warrant was issued in connection with Taylor’s ex-boyfriend JaMarcus Glover, who was already in police jail for a narcotics case.
When the officers broke down the apartment door shortly after midnight, Taylor was in bed with her boyfriend Kenneth Walker. Walker and Taylor were in the apartment hallway facing the door, thinking they were confronting criminal burglars when Walker fired a warning shot as the cops broke in. Taylor was shot five times by the three officers, who killed her. Walker escaped with his life.
Vanity Fair commissioned Sherald to create the artwork for its September 2020 cover. Ta-Nehisi Coates, author of the Oprah Winfrey-endorsed “The Water Dancer,” guest-edited the issue, which focused on activism.
Kevin Young, the Andrew W. Mellon Director of the African American History Museum, stated in a statement, “I am honored and proud of the work the museum has accomplished over the past five years to share African American history and culture with the globe.”
Sherald, a 48-year-old Columbus, Georgia resident, seems to be on board with the shared purchase of her stunning artwork, stating her desire for the painting to be seen by everyone. In March, she told The New York Times, “I felt like it should live out in the world.” “I started thinking about her hometown and how this painting could be Louisville’s Balm in Gilead.”
Breonna Taylor’s portrait was her second commission since graduating from Clark Atlanta University. Sherald had already received international acclaim for her official portrait of Michelle Obama, the former first lady of the United States.
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