Indra Nooyi, Jeff Bezos inducted into prestigious Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery in US
By Lalit K Jha :
INDIAN-AMERICAN former PepsiCo head Indra Nooyi and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos have been inducted into the prestigious Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery for their accomplishments and positive impact on America’s shared history, development and culture. Founded by Congress in 1962, the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery tell the story of America by portraying the people who have made significant contributions to the history, development, and culture of the people of the US. Through the visual arts, performing arts and new media, the Portrait Gallery presents poets and presidents, visionaries and villains, actors and activists whose lives form America’s national identity.
Over the years the collections - which were initially restricted to paintings, prints, drawings and engravings - have grown to over 23,000 items in all media, from daguerreotypes to digital. “To be an immigrant, a South Asian immigrant of colour, a woman to be included in the Portrait Gallery... It really says that we are the country where people look for the people who make a positive impact and celebrate them,” Nooyi, 64, told reporters during the portrait gallery induction ceremony on Sunday.
“It doesn’t matter what your background, colour, creed, ethnicity is. As long as you’ve made a positive impact to the country, we are going to celebrate you - actually memorialise - which I thought was even more spectacular,” she said. The gallery has about 23,000 portraits in its permanent collection and adds 150 to 200 per year with 500 to 600 works on public display at any given time, the ‘Washington Post’ reported. “I feel very grateful to be making a home here in this country because this portrait gallery is an accolade which I’ve never dreamed of.
And it’s heartwarming to see this,” Nooyi said. Among others included in the portrait gallery were Frances Arnold, Lin-Manuel Miranda and the Earth, Wind and Fire. The portrait of Nooyi has been drawn by artist Jon Friedman and looks like a photograph. Nooyi said she watched Friedman paint it as she saw it in different stages. “He wanted to bring the inner me out in the portrait. So he took hundreds of pictures, then he picked one and drew from that. I watched every hair being painted and so he did a great job,” she said. “I think the big difference in my portrait is that they asked me a question, what’s meaningful for you - a picture of my parents, picture of my husband and kids, a picture of a PepsiCo annual report or a Yale (University) hat. All these are major factors in my life. So, it’s in a way an unusual portrait because I have all that behind me, which most portraits don’t have,” she said.