Painter Amy Sherald has donated $1 million to the University of Kentucky to create two scholarships named after Breonna Taylor. The money represents proceeds Sherald obtained from the sale of his 2020 painting of Taylor, who was murdered by police in Louisville, Ky., on March 13, 2020, after they illegally entered his apartment. The work, originally commissioned for vanity lounge by author Ta-Nehisi Coates, who was guest editor of the magazine’s Black Lives Matter issue, was co-purchased by the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC, where it is currently at the poster, and the Speed Louisville Museum of Art. The painting was prominently displayed at Speed in last year’s “Promise, Witness, Remembrance” exhibit, held in Taylor’s honor. Following her sale, which the artist handled personally, Sherald founded a trust whose purpose, she said, was to “unlock[ing] the challenges historically faced by students pursuing social justice and public service work.
The funds, distributed by the trust, will be split between the Brandeis Law School Breonna Taylor Legacy Scholarship, which will provide three recipients with stipends of $9,000 each, and the Breonna Taylor Legacy Scholarship, which will each provide up to four undergraduate students $7,000 on a staggered schedule over the next four years.
“Nothing can take away the injustice of Breonna Taylor’s death,” Douglas Craddock Jr., the University of Kentucky’s acting vice president for community engagement, said in a statement. “But what we need to do is create spaces where Breonna Taylor is remembered and where her legacy can inspire us to continue the hard work of erasing inequality and division.”
“I did this portrait for his family,” Sherald, who notably painted the portrait of former first lady Michelle Obama in 2018 for the National Portrait GalleryTold vanity lounge in 2021. “Producing this image keeps Breonna alive forever.”