The Art Angle Podcast: How Breonna Taylor’s Life Inspired an Unforgettable Museum Exhibition

Curator Allison Glenn describes the logistical and emotional process of organizing the stirring exhibition.

Curator Allison Glenn. Photo: Mariana Sheppard.
Curator Allison Glenn. Photo: Mariana Sheppard.

Welcome to the Art Angle, a podcast from Artnet News that delves into the places where the art world meets the real world, bringing each week’s biggest story down to earth. Join host Andrew Goldstein every week for an in-depth look at what matters most in museums, the art market, and much more with input from our own writers and editors as well as artists, curators, and other top experts in the field.

 

Right now, there’s an exhibition at the Speed Art Museum in Louisville, Kentucky, that is gaining international attention for a tragic reason. That’s because the show, titled “Promise, Witness, Remembrance,” is dedicated to the memory of Breonna Taylor, the 26-year-old Black woman who was killed by police during a raid of her Louisville home on March 13, 2020.

A former emergency medical technician whose unjustified slaying led to widespread protests and the nationwide “Say Her Name” campaign, Taylor has become something of an inspiration to some of the country’s most prominent socially engaged artists, whose tributes to her have made her a symbol of the protest movement.

Those tributes, by artists like Hank Willis Thomas, María Magdalena Campos-Pons, and Theaster Gates, now fill the exhibition at the Speed, where the centerpiece is the already iconic portrait of Taylor by the artist Amy Sherald that originally graced the September cover of Vanity Fair.

The show, celebrated for its emotional power, was organized by Allison Glenn, associate curator of contemporary art at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, and advised by a panel of artists and activists from across the country, organized by Glenn, and a local advisory committee in Louisville, led by the Speed’s Toya Northington.

So how did a museum exhibition dedicated to a victim of police violence come to be? To find out, we’re pleased to have Allison Glenn on the show today.

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