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Gala kicks off opening of new exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery

“Portrait of a Nation: 2022 Honorees” exhibition will be on view on the museum’s first floor through Oct. 22, 2023. Admission is free.

WASHINGTON — Seven remarkable individuals, who made transformative contributions to the United States and its people, will be honored Saturday night at the Portrait of a Nation Gala at the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery.

The 2022 honorees will be presented with their awards at the ticketed red carpet event.

The gala celebrates the opening of a new exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery, "Portrait of a Nation: 2022 Honorees." The exhibition will be on view on the museum's first floor through October 22, 2023. Admission is free.

The exhibition features the seven recipients of the museum's 2022 Portrait of a Nation Awards including newly acquired portraits of honorees José Andrés, Clive Davis, Ava DuVernay, Marian Wright Edelman, Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., Serena Williams and Venus Williams. 

Officials say the exhibition premieres six newly commissioned works and one never-before-shown photograph, each by a highly acclaimed contemporary artist.

“Since 2001, the museum has collected portraits of living sitters and continues to expand its work with contemporary artists,” said Rhea L. Combs, director of curatorial affairs. “We are incredibly fortunate that these artists have agreed to work with the museum to contribute to the visual history of our nation while celebrating this year’s Portrait of a Nation honorees.”  

Some of the art highlighted in the "Portrait of a Nation: 2022 Honorees" exhibition includes a new oil-on-linen painting by Kadir Nelson titled "José Andrés and the Olla de Barro that Feeds the World,” which portrays the renowned culinary entrepreneur and humanitarian.  Also Davis, an award-winning producer and music industry executive, will be represented with a rare commission by British artist David Hockney. Officials say Hockney has only ever taken one other painting commission during his career. The Davis painting will be the first Hockney painting to enter the Portrait Gallery's collection.

A new work on paper by the California-based artist Kenturah Davis features an intricate depiction of filmmaker DuVernay, whose interest in moving images and writing is highlighted through the artist’s stamping technique, according to a news release.

The Portrait Gallery has also commissioned artist Hugo Crosthwaite to create a portrait of public health expert Dr. Fauci. The resulting artwork is composed of stop-motion drawing animation and suite of 19 drawings on paper, seven of which will be on view. 

Officials say newly commissioned portraits of tennis champions and entrepreneurs Serena Williams and Venus Williams, by New York-based artists Toyin Ojih Odutola and Robert Pruitt, respectively, will premiere as part of the exhibition. Both are works on paper.

“Portrait of a Nation: 2022 Honorees” will also present the Colombia-born artist Ruven Afanador’s black-and-white photograph of Edelman. Officials say the likeness features the civil and children’s rights activist wearing a necklace with portraits of abolitionists Harriet Tubman and Sojourner Truth. 

The newly acquired works contribute to the National Portrait Gallery’s collection of more than 23,000 objects and its history of collaborating with contemporary artists. The “Portrait of a Nation: 2022 Honorees” exhibition is curated by Combs in collaboration with Taína Caragol, curator of painting, sculpture and Latinx art and history, and Leslie Ureña, curator of photographs.

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