Promise, Witness, Remembrance
The Speed Art Museum is Kentucky’s oldest and largest art museum. In 2021, the Speed mounted a powerful exhibition titled “Promise, Witness, Remembrance” that reflected on the life of Breonna Taylor, her killing in 2020, and the year of protests that followed.
Team developed the visual identity for the exhibition in close collaboration with curator Allison Glenn and the Speed Museum, a National Advisory panel of artists, art historians, and activists, and a steering committee composed of researchers, community members, and Breonna Taylor’s family.
The show’s three key themes — Promise, Witness, and Remembrance — create a natural allusion to past, present, and future. Dynamic typography shifts in relation to the segments of the exhibition, alluding to the moment without placing it within a concrete point in time. Throughout the exhibit, the placement of Promise, Witness, Remembrance is ever-changing, signaling to the viewer that we should view each work through a shifting lens of time and place.
Typography plays a pivotal role in the exhibition. We iterated through a variety of type treatments before choosing Freight Display by prominent Black type designer Joshua Darden. The dynamic positioning of the typography throughout the exhibit allows viewers to reflect on the fundamental role of time in understanding how we promise, witness, and remember.
A deep purple serves as the primary color for the exhibit, complementing Breonna Taylor’s portrait and favorite colors, a mix of blues and purples. The heaviness of the deep purple is an appropriate match for the weight of the show, and the color’s subtle depth gives it a transcendent quality.
The exhibition’s visual identity had to reinforce the timely, local, and pointed curatorial response to some of the most pressing questions facing cultural institutions today. The design focuses on a judicious application of type and color to ensure the curatorial vision was front and center.
“Through this act of creating community, of calling people in, you in fact center them.” — Allison Glenn, Curator