Inspiring Greatness | National Civil Rights Museum

Inspiring Greatness Through Words and Deeds

Exhibition of Works by Artist Baret Boisson

June 11 - September 5, 2016

Standing at the intersection of history, fame, myth, and influence, Baret Boisson's art encourages viewers to reflect on how famous figures have had an impact on the lives of so many. In the series Inspiring Greatness, the artist's depictions of celebrated civil rights activists, politicians, sports figures, and entertainers combine images and text to create rich portrayals that make her an artist that defies easy categorization.

In the Inspiring Greatness Series, Boisson portrays historical figures who have left an indelible mark on the world. Whether fighting for civil and human rights or taking a stance in support of the labor movement, Boisson's subjects are all leaders whose actions have challenged others to work for social justice and political change.

Baret Boisson is a self-trained L.A. artist known for her portraits of historical figures from Abraham Lincoln to Rosa Parks as well as commissioned works for such notables as Elizabeth Taylor, Jimmy Fallon, Shonda Rhimesand Kathy Ireland. The National Civil Rights Museum is proud to premier two of Boisson's most recent works. Boisson is gifting the MLK, Jr., - I Have a Dream piece to the Museum.

The exhibition is curated by New York-based independent curator Christine Minas.

About José Galvez

Baret Boisson. Photo: © Isaac Hernandez Herrero/

When José Galvez was 10, he carried his shoeshine box into the building of the Arizona Daily Star. After that night, he was a permanent fixture in the newsroom. He bought a camera at a pawn shop in high school and inspired by his mentors at the paper, went on to major in journalism at the University of Arizona. Upon graduation he became a staff photographer at the Star. No matter what his assignments were early on, José always focused his lens on the barrios of Tucson - his home - and the people who lived, worked, and loved there. He had his first professional exhibition when he was just 22 years old. At about the same time, José's participation in the Chicano Movement led him to see his work as more than a passion: he had a responsibility to capture the history of his people.

Galvez moved on to the Los Angeles Times, becoming the first Mexican-American photographer on staff. In 1984, he was on a team of reporters and photographers that won a Pulitzer Prize for a series on Latino life in southern California: the first Chicanos to win the Prize. He left the Times in 1992 after winning many other awards for his photographs.

Galvez was an editor of and contributor to Americanos. He’s collaborated with writers such as Luis Alberto Urrea and Patricia Martin. He published his own childhood stories in Shine Boy. His current work focuses on Latino communities of the American South, naturalization ceremonies, and documenting the many communities he visits every year.

For over 40 years, José Galvez has used black and white film to create a powerful and unparalleled historical record of the Latino experience in America. His compelling work, done with respect, pride and no pretense, captures the beauty of daily life.   For José, photographing the lives of Latinos is not a one-time project or “current passion” but a lifelong commitment. 

His photographs have been exhibited in museums and galleries here and abroad, including the Smithsonian. But more often, you’ll find him toting portable exhibits to schools, libraries, fiestas, lowrider shows, and rodeos.


MLK, Jr. – “I Have a Dream”, 2007

Acrylic and glitter on canvas

60 x 72 inches

Courtesy of the Artist

Promised gift to the National Civil Rights Museum


Frederick Douglass, 2015

Acrylic paint on found cigar box

8 x 10 ½ x 2 inches

Courtesy of the Artist


Harriet Tubman, 2015

Acrylic paint and glitter on found cigar box

7 x 9 x 2 inches

Courtesy of the Artist


Sojourner Truth, 2016

Acrylic paint on found cigar box

8 ½ x 9 x 2 inches

Courtesy of the Artist

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