A new exhibition pays tribute to the memory of Breonna Taylor

A portrait of Breonna by Amy Sherald, which previously appeared on the cover of Vanity Fair, will be part of the show.

by Roisin Lanigan
11 March 2021, 5:00pm

Painting of Breonna Taylor by Amy Sherald

As we reach the one year anniversary of the death of Breonna Taylor, shot inside her own home by police officers on 13 March 2020, artists and activists around the world are determined to keep her memory alive and have her story be told. In Breonna’s native Louisville, Kentucky, a new exhibition, set to open next month, will pay tribute to Breonna’s memory, as well as to victims of gun violence and police brutality nationwide. 

Promise, Witness, Remembrance — opening 7 April at Louisville’s The Speed Art Museum — is a powerful reflection on Breonna’s life, exploring how the city has metabolised her loss, as well as how her story connects to structural police brutality. Curated by Allison Glenn, the exhibition takes its name from a conversation between Tamika Palmer (Breonna’s mother) and Allison herself, who has split the show into three separate entities. 

In ‘Promise’, the first gallery, contemporary artists including Glenn Ligon and Bethany Collins explore the ideology of the USA through the symbols of the nation, and highlight the gulf between the promises upheld by those symbols, and the experience of Americans unfulfilled by those promises. The second gallery, ‘Witness’, builds on the gap between what a nation promises and what it provides, with a selection of artworks that explore the theme of resistance. And in the third gallery, ‘Remembrance’, the exhibition culminates with a series of works addressing gun violence and victims of police brutality, with works from Kerry James Marshall and Nick Cave. Also featured in the final gallery is Amy Sherald’s portrait of Breonna Taylor, previously seen on the cover of Vanity Fair, and publicly exhibited for the first time ever as part of Promise, Witness, Remembrance

“What happened in Louisville is not an isolated occurrence, but rather an echo of the paradox of the time and place we are living in,” curator Allison Glenn said in a statement. “The story of Breonna Taylor is part of a larger history of the United States that we must contend with. We live in a country where a woman of colour is Vice President, but the family of Breonna Taylor has not gotten the justice they’ve sought.” 

Admission to Promise, Witness Remembrance is free and open to the public from 7 April to 6 June 2021. For those not close to Louisville, there will also be an digital counterpart to the exhibition here.

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