Indra Nooyi inducted into the National Portrait Gallery


Among others included in the portrait gallery were Frances Arnold, Lin-Manuel Miranda and Earth, Wind and Fire

Former Indo-American PepsiCo Director Indra Nooyi and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos were inducted into the prestigious Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery for their accomplishments and positive impact on the shared history, development and culture of the America.

Founded by Congress in 1962, the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery tells the story of America by describing people who have made significant contributions to the history, development, and culture of the American people.

Through visual arts, performing arts and new media, the Portrait Gallery features poets and presidents, visionaries and villains, actors and activists whose lives shape America’s national identity.

Over the years, the collections – which were initially limited to paintings, prints, drawings and engravings – have grown to more than 23,000 pieces in all media, from daguerreotypes to digital.

“Being an immigrant, a South Asian immigrant of color, a woman to be included in the Portrait Gallery … it really says that we are the country where people seek out people who make a positive impact and celebrate them,” said Ms Nooyi, 64, told reporters at the portrait gallery’s induction ceremony on Sunday.

“It does not matter your origin, your color, your beliefs, your ethnic origin. As long as you have had a positive impact on the country, we are going to celebrate you – indeed commemorate – what I found even more spectacular, ”she said.

The gallery has around 23,000 portraits in its permanent collection and adds 150 to 200 per year with 500 to 600 works on display to the public at any one time, the Washington Post reported.

Historians consider new names, then work with members of the gallery’s board to select who to include and commission their portraits. The process can take a year, or even longer if the model and artist take a long time to complete a work, he said.

“I am very grateful to settle here in this country because this portrait gallery is an honor that I have never dreamed of. And it’s heartwarming to see that, ”Ms. Nooyi said.

Among others included in the portrait gallery were Frances Arnold, Lin-Manuel Miranda and Earth, Wind and Fire.

Ms. Nooyi’s portrait was drawn by artist Jon Friedman and looks like a photograph. Ms Nooyi said she watched Mr Friedman paint it as she saw him at different stages.

Artist Jon R. Friedman pictured in front of the 'Indra Nooyi' portrait

Artist Jon R. Friedman pictured in front of the ‘Indra Nooyi’ portrait

“He wanted to bring out my inner being in the portrait. So he took hundreds of pictures, then he chose one and was inspired by it. I watched all the hair get painted so it did a great job, ”she said.

“I think the big difference in my portrayal is that they asked me a question, what makes sense to you – a photo of my parents, a photo of my husband and my children, a photo from a PepsiCo annual or a Yale (college) hat. All of these are major factors in my life. So, this is kind of an unusual picture because I have it all behind me, which most portraits don’t, ”she said.

Ms Nooyi said when she received a letter last year she thought it was a joke and asked her public relations department to take care of it.

“They came back and said no, it’s not a job, it’s for real,” she said, adding that she then went down to the Portrait Gallery to see for herself.

Ms Nooyi said she realized that the portraits in the gallery were chosen to tell the story of the United States, not only for people here today, but for generations to come.

Kim Sajet, director of the National Portrait Gallery, inducted Ms. Nooyi into the portrait gallery, acknowledging her achievements as a businesswoman and also as an immigrant.

“Indra ran a Fortune 500 company,” she said on the sidelines of the National Portrait Gallery gala attended by several celebrities, including former First Lady Michelle Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

The sold-out gala raised around $ 2 million.

Born in Chennai, Ms. Nooyi resigned on October 2 last year as CEO of PepsiCo, after 24 years at the company, the last 12 as CEO of the global beverage giant. During her 12-year tenure as Managing Director, Ms. Nooyi transformed PepsiCo into one of the most successful agri-food companies in the world.


Julia P. Cluff