A unique glass portrait of Vice President Kamala Harris was unveiled outside the Lincoln Memorial on Thursday. The portrait will only be on display through Saturday before it is moved to the New York offices of Chief, a networking organization for female executives that co-sponsored the artwork with the National Women's History Museum. The portrait was made with glass that has been cracked, signifying Harris' glass ceiling-breaking election as the first woman Vice President.
The portrait measures 6-by-6-feet and weighs 350 pounds. Swiss artist Simon Berger used a photograph by New York photographer Celeste Sloman as a guide. "This will just be a wonderful visual emblem of this moment in time and hopefully people will reflect a little bit on all the barriers that have been broken by her election," Holly Hotchner, National Women's History Museum president and CEO, told the Associated Press. Harris reportedly knows about the project but has not announced plans to visit.
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Berger created the piece by actually hammering in cracks into the glass to create Harris' likeness. "I hit the glass directly with the hammer so that cracks and impacts occur," Berger explained to the AP. "Hard hits create abstraction and I 'paint' with targeted fine hits." Chief released a video showing Berger at work, with each crack representing other milestones achieved by women in politics.
Harris, the daughter of Indian and Jamaican immigrants, has earned several firsts throughout her career in California and national politics. The 56-year-old was the first person of color and woman to serve as the San Francisco District Attorney, the first woman and Black person to serve as California's D.A., and the first Black person elected to represent California in the Senate. In November, she became the first woman, first Black person, and first Asian American elected as Vice President. On Friday, she cast her first tie-breaking vote in the Senate to ensure passage of President Joe Biden's proposed $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package.
Berger's work was finished at his studio in Switzerland and was then shipped "very, very carefully" to the U.S., BBH creative director Jackie Anzaldi told the AP. "We wanted it to really be like a show-stopping piece that people are going to see and interact with and really celebrate her in the way that she should be," Liz Loudy, another BBH creative director, explained. The portrait will only be on display through Saturday night before it is moved to Chief's offices. Future plans for public viewing have not been announced.