A new exhibition in Kentucky will honor Black lives lost too soon, reflecting in particular on the life of Breonna Taylor, her killing in 2020 and the year of protests that followed in Louisville and around the world.

Taylor was a Black medical worker who was shot and killed by police officers at her home in Louisville. Promise, Witness, Remembrance will open at the Speed Art Museum in Louisville on April 7, exploring the dualities between a personal, local story and the US's reflection on too many Black lives lost to gun violence and police brutality. It will include work by Theaster Gates, Hank Willis Thomas, Nick Cave and Alisha Wormsley, and is curated by Allison Glenn.

A sculpture of a black arm surrounded by flowers by Nick Cave
Unarmed, 2018, sculpture by Nick Cave © Nick Cave

"What happened to Breonna Taylor and what has happened in Louisville over the last year are part of a larger challenge in this country, an ongoing crisis of gun violence and police brutality," says Glenn. "Many of the works in this exhibition speak to that crisis, past and present, both in Louisville and around the United States. But they also speak, on a more personal level, to how we honor the lives we’ve lost, and stand in solidarity with their loved ones."

A canvas by artist Sam Gilliam
Carousel Form II, 1969, by Sam Gilliam © Collection of the Speed Art Museum, Louisville, KY

The title of the exhibition emerged from a conversation between Allison Glenn and Breonna Taylor's mother, Tamika Palmer, during the exhibition’s planning. The exhibition will mark the first time Sherald’s portrait of Taylor, which was used as the September 2020 cover of Vanity Fair, will be publicly exhibited. “I made the portrait for Breonna Taylor’s family, first and foremost, and so it was important for this work to be seen first in this community, in Louisville,” says Amy Sherald. “I want to honor Breonna’s memory, and to provide some inspiration to the ongoing struggle for justice.”

Promise, Witness, Remembrance opens on 7 April and runs through 6 June, and further information is available on the Speed Art Museum's website here.

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