The world remembers Breonna Taylor’s name a year after her death sparked a global conversation on police brutality. Now artists pay tribute to her memory.
On March 13th 2020, Breonna Taylor was fatally shot in her own home by police. She was a 26-year-old emergency room technician and a victim of the police brutality that plagues the United States. The silence after her death only created outrage across the globe. Protestors from Black Lives Matter held banners stating “say her name louder.”
Her name continues to ring throughout the Black Lives Matter community. Now artists are gathering to display their work to pay tribute to her death at the Speed Art Museum in Louisville, Kentucky. This was Breonna Taylor’s hometown.
Titled Promise, Witness and Remembrance the exhibition will explore the motif of systemic racism and police brutality that impacts Black communities across the US. Displayed across five galleries, each word in the title has a different purpose.
The first gallery will explore how symbols in the United States uphold beliefs. The artwork will discuss the power a symbol holds, including history, promises and realities.
The next stage in the exhibition will do explore the juxtaposition of what a nation promises and provided. The artwork portrays themes of resistance across time, form and content.
The final gallery is where artists address gun violence and police brutality. Allowing the victims of systemic violence to create a legacy through the artists work.
Allison Glenn, writer and Associate Curator, Contemporary Art at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art wanted to highlight Black empowerment in the exhibition. She gathered a team of contemporary Black artists that have dedicated their work to fighting racism. Including Amy Sherald, Nick Cave, Theaster Gates, Sam Gilliam, Kerry James Marshall, Rashid Johnson, Glenn Ligon, Lorna Simpson, Nari Ward and Hank Willis Thomas.
“A lot of times, what happens when you’re creating exhibitions of this kind, the perspective is the other gaze, it comes from a white gaze and then it’s interpreted in a way that we can package it into a museum. With this particular exhibition, we’ve really centered the voices that are closest to the issue.”
The art exhibition will have some of the most-in-demand artwork. Word artist, Glenn Ligon will be featuring his neon artwork “Aftermath” which explores heightened racial tension brought on by former President Donald Trump. Alongside Amy Sherald’s portrait of Breonna Taylor painted for Vanity Fair’s September 2020 issue will make an appearance. It is believe that only a handful of people have ever seen the artwork in person.
Speed Art Museum Director, Stephen Reily says that the exhibition wasn’t originally on his mind,
“For the past year, we’ve been thinking about what’s the role of the museum in serving a community that’s been going through trauma since the killing of Breonna Taylor and the protests that followed? What is the role of an art museum and how can we find a way for art to help people process what they’ve been going through?”
The exhibition sends the message to the global community that Black victims won’t be ignored. Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer, is carrying on this ideology by continuing her fight for justice a year after her death. According to Palmer, the police officers involved in Taylor’s shooting haven’t been held accountable. Former Louisville police officer, Brett Hankinson was the lone officer of the three that stormed Breonna’s house to face an indictment. Which included three counts of wanton endangerment for blindly firing into a neighbour’s apartment.
The conversations that followed Taylor’s death brought attention to the lack of justice when regarded with police brutality. Many claimed that cases involved with Black women often get overlooked.
Taylor’s family continues to lobby for police reform, saying it will put an end to police immunity. Allowing the Black families impacted by police violence to gain some justice.
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