Introducing: Promise, Witness, Remembrance

By May 11, 2021
Amy Sherald, Breonna Taylor, 2020. Courtesy the artist and Speed Art Museum, Louisville.

As we approach the one-year anniversary of George Floyd’s murder, and the global movement for justice and accountability that followed in its wake, Burnaway will be releasing a week-long series focused on the exhibition Promise, Witness, Remembrance at the Speed Museum in Louisville, organized by Allison Glenn, an associate curator of Contemporary Art at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. The exhibition—built around Amy Sherald’s portrait of Breonna Taylor—features twenty-three local and national artists grappling with the trauma, gravity, and complexity of the last year and envisioning a future of healing and reconciliation. 

Nancy Friedemann-Sánchez’s Casta Paintings on view at Halsey Institute in Charleston through July16

While the exhibition in Louisville is only one among many institutional projects attempting this work, its context within the South and its multi-voiced and community-centered approach represents an untraditional, but perhaps necessary change to how museums typically do their work. As a publication, we too have spent the last year wondering how to address the memefication of Breonna’s murder, and the dizzying amount of images and art that are being produced around Black Death. Spread over the course of this week, this series includes:

Editor Jasmine Amussen’s essay about the exhibit in Louisville.

Louisville native Noel W Anderson revisits his childhood experiences of sneaking into the Speed Museum and dreaming past the museum-as-mausoleum.

An interview with Toya Northington, the Speed’s Community Relations Strategist on her return to her hometown of Louisville, ensuring every stakeholder’s voice was heard, and the community engagement model she built to ensure buy-in. 

Artist María Magdalena Campos-Pons reflects on her experience as a participating artist in the exhibition.

Some of these reflections are harsh, uncomfortable, and unsettling. As they should be. Promise, Witness, Remembrance at its core is about a woman, and her life, the theft of that life, and how we, as human beings, must confront the things that brought us to this place and the things that will lead us out. 

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