Ava DuVernay, Venus and Serena Williams Among Honorees at Portrait Of A Nation Gala

Ava DuVernay, Venus and Serena Williams Among Honorees at Portrait Of A Nation Gala

More than 750 entertainers and influencers were welcomed to Washington D.C. Saturday for the 2022 Portrait of a Nation Gala.

The event, directed by art curator Kim Sajet, was held at the Smithsonian‘s National Portrait Gallery.

“This year’s Portrait of a Nation Gala strengthens our commitment to contemporary portraiture,” Sajet said in an issued press release. “We collaborate with contemporary artists to illuminate the history unfolding around us while also looking back at the changemakers who came before.”

Seven honorees received this year’s Portrait of a Nation Awardincluding award-winning filmmaker Ava DuVernay23-time Grand Slam champion and entrepreneur Serena Williams, and her sister, fellow tennis champion and pay equity activist Venus Williams.

The award, established in 2015, recognizes individuals who have made transformative contributions to the United States and its people.

The awardees were also featured in portraits displayed in the National Portrait Gallery, honoring the extraordinary contributions these individuals have brought forth in their respective industries during a special red-carpet gathering.

“Portraiture is both the past and present, contemplative and motivating, traditional and avant-garde, and we encourage everyone looking at the portraits of this year’s honorees to reflect on how they might see history and want themselves to be seen,” Sajet added in her statement.

Other honorees included humanitarian José Andrés, Grammy award-winning music executive, and philanthropist Clive Davis, attorney and children’s rights activist Marian Wright Edelman, and leading public health expert Dr. Anthony Fauci.

The special gathering was curated by Rhea L. Combs, director of curatorial affairs, in collaboration with Taína Caragol, curator of painting, sculpture, and Latinx art and history, and Leslie Ureña, curator of photographs.

The event featured six newly commissioned portraits and one never-before-seen photograph by contemporary artists Ruven Afanador (Edelman), Hugo Crosthwaite (Fauci), Kenturah Davis (DuVernay), David Hockney (Davis), Kadir Nelson (Andrés), Toyin Ojih Odutola (S. Williams) and Robert Pruitt (V. Williams). 

Attendees also enjoyed cocktails, dinner, and a performance by acclaimed Jazz musician Wynton Marsalis.