Since I left the Speed Art Museum a year ago I’ve been working to document “Promise, Witness, Remembrance” – the exhibition built around Amy Sherald’s portrait of Breonna Taylor. That work is now a Speed-published book, co-authored with Curator Allison Glenn and Community Engagemnt Strategist Toya Northington and with contributions from many.
What made this exhibition was the people who brought it together: the 4 Black women pictured here (Amy Sherald, Tamika Palmer, Allison, and Toya) and the teams of advisors they organized and listened to, the 22 artists whose work was presented, and our 100+ colleagues at the Speed (among staff and our 2 boards) who made it happen.
The New York Times called “Promise, Witness, Remembrance” one of the best art exhibitions of 2021. In the words of critic Holland Cotter, “the show was assembled in four months ― warp speed in museum-time ― and created a prototype for institutional responses to history-as-it’s-happening.”
The book tells that story in real-time, conveying our fears and the tensions that we worked to resolve as we all sought to honor the memory of Breonna Taylor, her family, and our community through art. It also tries to share what the exhibition felt like and how it helped us all process one of the hardest years of our lives.