Vanity Fair’s latest storied September issue is a powerhouse. Magazine covers sometimes fail to live up to the editorial within, or feel like an off-base visual crafted solely for the newsstand—but this treatment, featuring a painting of Breonna Taylor by artist Amy Sherald, is brilliantly in sync with the content curated by guest editor Ta-Nehisi Coates.
Forgoing the celebrities that tend to feature on the issue, the magazine commissioned Sherald, who created the official portrait of Michelle Obama, to paint the late 26-year-old EMT. Taylor was murdered by Louisville police executing a no-knock warrant in March.
As Vanity Fair details, Sherald infused the painting with details of Taylor’s life, from her hair styles and clothing to a color palette that reflects her birthstone, the aquamarine. Taylor also wears an engagement ring that her boyfriend had acquired—but that she would never wear due to the tragedy.
“She sees you seeing her,” Sherald told Vanity Fair. “The hand on the hip is not passive, her gaze is not passive. She looks strong! I wanted this image to stand as a piece of inspiration to keep fighting for justice for her. When I look at the dress, it kind of reminds me of Lady Justice.”
Coates reported Taylor’s story from Louisville. The issue also contains pieces about protest art, a portfolio of activists and creatives, and more.
In celebration of Sherald’s work, we’re featuring Debbie Millman’s Design Matters interview with her here, as well as the essay that originally ran with it.
For more about Vanity Fair’s September issue, click here.