A PORTRAIT OF VICE PRESIDENT Kamala Harris was unveiled today on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The artwork is installed near the Lincoln Memorial, in the shadow of the Washington Monument, and will be on view through Feb. 6. Rendered in shattered glass by Swiss artist Simon Berger, the likeness is a nod to the historic and groundbreaking achievements of Harris.

Berger works with large sheets of laminated safety glass. Gingerly tapping the surface, he strategically shatters the glass, leaving cracks and fissures creating the depth and dimension that form his works. His one-of-a-kind image of Harris is based on a photograph by Celeste Sloman. The medium of the portrait embodies the symbolism of Harris’s rise to the Vice Presidency. Throughout her career she has taken a symbolic hammer to many glass ceilings.

The portrait of Harris is presented by the National Women’s History Museum, based in Alexandria, Va., in partnership with Chief, an exclusive network of women leaders established in 2019, and the creative agency BBH New York. Visitors to the installation can scan a QR code that connects to an Instagram Spark AR. The augmented reality experience provides an immersive exploration of Harris’s milestone achievements.

Women have been exceeding expectations, marking historic firsts, and shattering glass ceilings for generations, making strides in a spectrum of fields from art and culture, to business, science, and sports. Politics, elective office, in particular, has proven to be one of the most impenetrable career paths.

The U.S. Presidency continues to elude women, for now. Harris is one step away. She is the first woman, first Black, and first Asian American to serve as Vice President. She is also the first Vice President to graduate from an HBCU (Howard University).

Harris joined Joe Biden’s ticket after launching her own Presidential campaign and then suspending the effort in December 2019. Prior to her bid for the Presidency, she was the second Black woman in history to serve in the U.S. Senate, representing California since 2016.

The election of Vice President Kamala Harris is “a critical turning point in the fight for representation.”
— Holly Hotchner, National Women’s History Museum

 


IMAGES: Above and at top of page – Installation views glass portrait of Vice President Kamala Harris (6.5 x 6.5 feet) by SIMON BERGER. Presented by National Women’s History Museum, Chief & BBH NY (with production partnership from M ss ng P eces). | Photo by Shannon Finney /Getty Images for National Women’s History Museum & Chief

 

Women are woefully under-represented on Capitol Hill. In the 117th Congress, which began last month, women only represent 27 percent of the members in the U.S. House of Representatives and hold just 24 of the 100 seats in the U.S. Senate (24 percent).

Even before she arrived in the Senate, Harris was breaking barriers. In California, she was the first Black woman elected district attorney of San Francisco (2004-2010). In 2011, she became California’s attorney general, the first woman, first African American and first Asian American to serve in the statewide post. Elected in 2010, she was re-elected in 2014.

Holly Hotchner, president and CEO of the National Women’s History Museum, said the election of Vice President Harris is “a critical turning point in the fight for representation.”

“Representation matters, especially at the ballot box, and the inauguration of Kamala Harris as the first woman, and first woman of color, to serve as vice president of the United States is a landmark moment in American history,” Hotchner said in a statement.

“Today’s progress is built on the legacy of the women who came before—the trailblazers, like Kamala, who raised their voices, marched for their rights, and ran for elected office; the women who cracked glass ceilings so that other women could shatter them.” CT

 


Vice President Kamala Harris joins a long line of historic women who have been breaking glass ceilings in Washington, D.C., for generations. As their achievements are recalled, Swiss artist Simon Berger demonstrates how he created his cracked glass portrait of Harris. | Video by Chief

 

BOOKSHELF
Before she launched her Presidential campaign, Kamala Harris published a memoir, “The Truths We Hold: An American Journey,” the was recently released in paperback. She also wrote “Superheroes Are Everywhere,” a children’s book with illustrations by Mechal Renee RoeHer. Harris’s historic rise has also engendered children’s books by her niece Meena Harris (“Ambitious Girl”), and authors Nikki Grimes and Laura Freeman (“Kamala Harris: Rooted in Justice”). There is a 2021 wall calendar dedicated to Harris and the Vice President-Elect has also inspired comics from Tidalwave Productions, including “Female Force: Kamala Harris” and “Political Power: Madam Vice President,” published on Jan. 20, 2021, Inauguration Day.

 

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