Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery Celebrates Star-Studded 2022 Portrait of a Nation Gala

Portrait of a Nation Award Received by Honorees José Andrés, Clive Davis, Ava DuVernay, Marian Wright Edelman, Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., Serena Williams, Venus Williams
November 14, 2022
News Release

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Two rows of 17 people dressed in black tie attire pose on a blue carpet

Credit: Honorees and presenters of the 2022 Portrait of a Nation Gala at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery. Photo by Paul Morigi / Getty Images for the National Portrait Gallery.

The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery and its Director Kim Sajet welcomed more than 750 stars and luminaries from across the country to the nation’s capital for the 2022 Portrait of a Nation Gala Saturday, Nov. 12. At the red carpet event, seven honorees received the museum’s Portrait of a Nation Award for their wide-ranging transformative contributions to the United States and its people. 

Honorees included José Andrés, internationally recognized humanitarian, culinary innovator, New York Times bestselling author, educator and founder of World Central Kitchen; Clive Davis, Grammy Award-winning music industry executive and member of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame; Ava DuVernay, Academy Award nominee and Emmy-, BAFTA- and Peabody Award-winning filmmaker and founder of ARRAY; Marian Wright Edelman, activist for children’s rights and founder and president emerita of the Children’s Defense Fund; Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) at the National Institutes of Health and chief of the NIAID Laboratory of Immunoregulation, chief medical advisor to the President and advisor on global AIDS issues and COVID-19; Serena Williams, tennis champion, winner of 23 Grand Slam titles and entrepreneur; and Venus Williams, tennis champion, winner of seven Grand Slam titles, entrepreneur and outspoken advocate on equal pay, mental health and physical wellness.

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

A media-lined red carpet adorned the steps of the Greek Revival-style museum as guests proceeded to a private viewing of the “Portrait of a Nation: 2022 Honorees,” 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. On view were 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 then mingled during a cocktail hour deejayed by Mia Moretti and Margot.

A performance by acclaimed jazz musician Wynton Marsalis drew guests from cocktails in the museum’s historic Great Hall to dinner in the Robert and Arlene Kogod Courtyard, where they were also treated to a New Orleans-inspired second line parade.

Sajet, Board Chair Joseph P. Ujobai, and other Smithsonian leadership shared remarks. As host of the dinner program, writer, producer and TV host Baratunde Thurston provided witty commentary. Presentations of the Portrait of a Nation Award were made by Laurene Powell Jobs to Andrés, Alicia Keys to Davis, Isabel Wilkerson to DuVernay, Hillary Rodham Clinton to Edelman, David M. Rubenstein to Fauci, Mellody Hobson to S. Williams, and Sonya Haffey and Isha Price to V. Williams.

In attendance at the black-tie event were the gala’s national chairs Catherine and Michael Podell, Eduardo J. Ardiles and Joseph P. Ujobai, and Lyndon J. Barrois Sr. and Janine Sherman Barrois; Washington, D.C. chairs Kristin and John Cecchi and Susanna and Jack Quinn; founding chairs Wayne and Catherine Reynolds; and Host Committee members Jeffrey P. Bezos and Lauren Sánchez and David M. Rubenstein. Robert and Arlene Kogod and Patty Stonesifer and Michael Kinsley also served as Host Committee members for the event. 

Chevron and General Dynamics were lead sponsors of the 2022 Portrait of a Nation Gala. Vanity Fair was the exclusive media partner. “Portrait of a Nation: 2022 Honorees” exhibition is supported by Nike Inc.

The Portrait of a Nation Gala supports the nation’s premier collection of visual biographies.  Proceeds support the Portrait Gallery’s endowment for exhibitions, collections, commissions and education programs. For more information, visit npg.si.edu/gala.  

“Portrait of a Nation: 2022 Honorees” is on view on the museum’s first floor through Oct. 22, 2023. For more information, visit http://npg.si.edu/

National Portrait Gallery

The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery tells the multifaceted story of the United States through the individuals who have shaped American culture. Spanning the visual arts, performing arts and new media, the Portrait Gallery portrays poets and presidents, visionaries and villains, actors and activists whose lives tell the nation’s story. 

The National Portrait Gallery is located at Eighth and G streets N.W., Washington, D.C. Smithsonian Information: (202) 633-1000. Connect with the museum at npg.si.edu and on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.

Note to Editors: 
The evening’s guests also included actors Allison Abner, Gregory Cooke, Spencer Garrett, Ben Youcef; ambassadors HRH Princess Reema bint Bandar Al Saud (Saudi Arabia), Stuart Holliday and Gwen Holliday, Karen Pierce, Jacques Pitteloud and Angélique Pittelou`d (Switzerland); artists Cey Adams, Hugo Crosthwaite, Kadir Nelson, Toyin Ojih Odutola, Robert Pruitt, Barton Rubenstein and Shawn Michael Warren; singer-songwriter Jewel; jazz musician Wynton Marsalis; deejay Malball; deejay Mia Moretti and violinist Margot; athlete Calvin Ripken Jr.; author and social advocate David Ambroz; chefs Sandra Lee and Geoff Tracy; chemical engineer and Nobel Laureate Frances Arnold; cultural leaders Smithsonian Secretary Lonnie G. Bunch III and Maria Marable-Bunch, Caroline Edwards, Brandon Brame Fortune, Uzodinma Iweala, Roger Sant; film directors and producers Janine Sherman Barrois, Jim Budman, Ron Howard; judge Laura Ripken; media luminaries Billye Aaron, Bret Baier and Amy Baier, Dana Bash, Jeffrey Goldberg, Don Lemon and Tim Malone, Norah O’Donnell, Philip Rucker, Symone Sanders and Max Tucci; philanthropists and business leaders Wemimo and Taylor Abbey, Steve and Jean Case, Marcy and Neil Cohen, Josh Eastright, Alan Fleischmann, John Boochever and Carol Boochever, Teresa Carlson, Alma Gildenhorn, Nancy Lee Kemper and Jonathan Kemper, Martin Luther King III, Enrique Lores, J. Fielding Miller, Janai Nelson, Tommie Pegues, Howard Owens and Barron Segar; political notables Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff, Jay Carney, former Sec. Elaine Chao, Sen. Cory Booker, Sen. Chris Coons, Stephanie Cutter, Chad Griffin, Mitch Landrieu, Anna Cristina Niceta Lloyd, Frank Luntz, Rep. Doris Matsui, Rep. Jim McGovern and Lisa McGovern, Sec. Alejandro Mayorkas and Tanya Mayorkas, Maria Otero and Joseph Eldridge, Steve Ricchetti, Susan Rice, Gene Sperling and Rep. Maxine Waters.

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Concetta Duncan

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Liza Eliano, Brunswick
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