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Amy Sherald Directs Her Breonna Taylor Painting Toward Justice

Typically, Amy Sherald’s gallery would handle the sale of her artwork to a collector or an institution. But when it came to her portrait of Breonna Taylor — the 26-year-old medical worker who was shot and killed by police officers in Louisville, Ky. — Sherald herself wanted to see that particular painting all the way home.

“I felt like it should live out in the world,” Sherald said. “I started to think about her hometown and how maybe this painting could be a Balm in Gilead for Louisville.”

Sherald believed the painting should be seen by people where Taylor died as well as by a broader audience. And she intended the proceeds from her sale of the painting to advance the cause of social justice.

In an unusual arrangement that has unified two museums and two foundations, Sherald has managed to achieve those goals for the work, which was originally commissioned for the cover of Vanity Fair last September by Ta-Nehisi Coates, who was a guest editor for a special edition on activism.

The 54-inch-tall by 43-inch-wide painting will be jointly owned by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., and by the Speed Museum in Louisville, […]

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