In March of 2020, 26-year-old emergency medical technician Breonna Taylor was killed by police during a botched raid on her home, kicking off a storm of outrage and grief that’s culminated in a global reckoning over racism, discrimination and violent police practices. Breonna Taylor’s name and image has also become ubiquitous: her painted visage has appeared on the covers of magazines, and rallies in her name have taken place all across the country. Now, the Speed Art Museum in Louisville, Kentucky, the same city in which Taylor was killed, is launching a new exhibition entitled “Promise, Witness, Remembrance“ in response to Taylor’s death.
The exhibition, which will be on view from April to June, will reportedly explore the contradictions and dualities between a local, personal tragedy and the subsequent outpouring of national anguish regarding Black lives being lost to police violence. The exhibition was guest-curated by Allison Glenn, an Associate Curator at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas; the exhibition was also compiled with the blessing of Breonna Taylor’s family, as well as the insight of Louisville artists, activists, researchers and mental health specialists.
“What’s happened in Louisville is not an isolated occurrence, but rather an echo of the paradox of the time and place we are living in,” 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 color is Vice President, but the family of Breonna Taylor has not gotten the justice they’ve sought. It’s been a privilege to work with both the national panel, local community, and Breonna’s family to explore and articulate these, and other, dualities.”
In order to further ensure the exhibition’s sensitivity and success, several different experts joined a National Advisory Panel in order to guide the Speed Art Museum. These professionals include painter Amy Sherald, who created the image of Taylor for the cover of Vanity Fair, the multidisciplinary artist Hank Willis Thomas, Theaster Gates, the Founder and Executive Director of the Rebuild Foundation and La Keisha Leek, an artist advocate and the cousin of Trayvon Martin.
Although much is not yet known about which artists will be featured in the exhibition or the programming the museum is planning to accompany the show, it’s clear that a multitude of insights were poured into the exhibition’s construction which will all but ensure the success of its execution.