Four new exhibitions coming to the National Portrait Gallery

From photographs of remarkable black women to an exploration of the definition of “kinship,” these new exhibits explore the breadth of the modern American experience.

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Jhe says good things come in threes, but four good things come in Washington, D.C. Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery This year. Over the summer and fall, the museum will feature four new exhibits that examine what it means to be an American today.

Opening July 8 I dream a world: Selections from Brian Lanker’s Portraits of Notable Black Women will present a selection of portraits of contemporary black American women who have shaped the country with their work in the arts, literature, activism and politics. Next, A life: Maya Lin takes a biographical look at the award-winning Asian American architect behind DC’s Vietnam Veterans Memorial (September 30-April 16, 2023). Kinship, featuring more than 40 works by eight American photographers, explores the interpersonal relationships that unite us (October 28 – January 27, 2024). And set to debut on November 10 is Portrait of a Nation: 2022 Laureateswhich honors seven notable Americans who have had a significant impact on the country over the past year.

Together, the four exhibitions to create a poignant depiction of the ever-changing modern American identity and the commonalities that unite us – a powerful balm in today’s divisive times. Because the gallery is a Smithsonian institution, admission is free and tickets are not required.

I dream a world may sound familiar to those familiar with the work of the late Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Brian Lancker; her 1989 book of the same name serves as the basis for the exhibition, featuring portraits of 25 extraordinary black women. Although Lanker died in 2011, the iconic photographs have been in the possession of his family ever since and were first exhibited at the Mulvane Art Museum in Topeka, Kansas in 2020. In the first installation (July 8, 2022-January 29, 2023) at the National Portrait Gallery, photographs of women like Alice Walker, Maya Angelou and Rosa Parks will be exhibited while in the second (from July 10, 2023) February to September 10, 2023), visitors may recognize familiar faces like Oprah Winfrey and Odetta,”the voice of the civil rights movement.”

“This exhibition is important because, through compelling portraits, it invites us to consider the achievements of inspiring black women who overcame enormous challenges to succeed in fields as diverse as literature, law, music, sports and politics,” Ann Shumard, senior curator of photographs, said in an email.

With eight photographers from around the world,

Next to make its grand entrance will be the final chapter of the National Portrait Gallery’s A life series, which involves the museum devoting an entire gallery to the life of an important American. This time, the special exhibition will focus on the announced architect, ecologist and sculptor Maya Linwho is perhaps best known for designing the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. The exhibit uses photographs, sketchbook drawings, architectural models, sculptures, and personal objects that guide viewers through Lin’s four decades of work. Lin is passionate about the environment and is part of her What is missing? project, which addresses the global biodiversity crisis, will also be on display. A life: Maya Lin will be the first time the series has honored an Asian American since its debut in 2006. The exhibit opens September 30.

Kinship presents the work of international contemporary photographers Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Ruth Leonela Buentello, Jess T. Dugan, LaToya Ruby Frazier, Jessica Todd Harper, Thomas Holton, Sedrick Huckabyand Anna Tsouhlarakis, all of whom have been tasked with exploring the nature of love and relationships of all kinds. Among the themes addressed by the installation are childhood and adulthood, gender roles, the geographical and regional diversity of the country, life and death. Kinship is the last exhibition of the Gallery Portrait now series, which showcases the work of the most renowned and innovative photojournalists of the 21st century. Visitors can see the exhibition from October 28.

Last but not least is Portrait of a Nation: 2022 Laureates, which is set to run from November 10 for almost a year. That of the gallery Portrait of a people The series commemorates seven Americans who made a huge impact in their respective fields during the year and then became part of the nation’s zeitgeist. This year’s recipients include director Ava DuVernay, for her work in television and film; Dr. Anthony Fauci, the US President’s chief medical adviser who has guided the nation through the COVID crisis; and Serena Williams and Venus Williams, tennis stars whose lives were explored in the Oscar-winning film King Richard.

Julia P. Cluff