“I Dream of a World: Selections from Brian Lanker’s Portraits of Remarkable Black Women” | Smithsonian Voices

Septima Poinsette Clark by Brian Lanker, gelatin silver print, 1987. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; Partial gift from Lynda Lanker and purchase from the museum with support from Robert E. Meyerhoff and Rheda Becker, Agnes Gund, Kate Kelly and George Schweitzer, Lyndon J. Barrois and Janine Sherman Barrois, and Mark and Cindy Aron. Copyright Brian Lanker Archives.

The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery will present an exhibition of portraits by the late Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Brian Lanker. “I Dream a World: Selections from Brian Lanker’s Portraits of Remarkable Black Women” celebrates the first exhibition of photographs from the “I Dream a World” project to be shown in Washington, DC, in over 30 years. Installed in two parts, the comprehensive exhibition will feature more than 25 of the 75 photographs from Lanker’s series recently acquired by the museum. On display will be portraits of women who have transformed the arts, activism, literature and politics. Part I of the Portrait Gallery exhibition will be on view from July 8 to January 29, 2023, and Part II will be on view from February 10, 2023 to September 10, 2023. “I Dream of a World” is co-curated by Ann M Shumard, senior curator of photographs, and Gwendolyn DuBois Shaw, former senior historian and director of the museum’s history, research and academic programs.

“In 1987, award-winning photographer Brian Lanker launched an ambitious two-year effort to photograph courageous and groundbreaking black women whose lives and careers had left an indelible mark on the nation,” Shumard said.

“We are delighted that these extraordinary portraits have joined the museum’s collection and are now featured in this exhibition.”

Notable women represented in the first installation will include Maya Angelou, Leah Chase, Shirley Chisholm, Septima Poinsette Clark, Lena Horne, Barbara Jordan, Coretta Scott King, Constance Baker Motley, Rosa Parks, Leontyne Price, Beah Richards, Wilma Rudolph, Sarah Vaughan and Alice Walker. Babysitters featured in part two will include Mary Frances Berry, Elizabeth Catlett, Angela Davis, Katherine Dunham, Myrlie Evers-Williams, Althea Gibson, Dorothy Height, Odetta, Sonia Sanchez, Betty Shabazz, Ellen Stewart, Cicely Tyson and Oprah Winfrey .

Lanker’s “I Dream a World” series was a partial gift from Lynda Lanker and a museum purchase made possible through support from Robert E. Meyerhoff and Rheda Becker, Agnes Gund, Kate Kelly and George Schweitzer, Lyndon J. Barrois and Janine Sherman Barrois, and Mark and Cindy Aron.

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Julia P. Cluff