Seven of the most influential figures in health, sports, television, film, politics and beyond were honored in the nation’s capital recently. On November 12, the following figures were celebrated at the 2022 National Portrait Gallery: Serena Williams, Venus Williams, Ava DuVernay, Dr. Anthony Fauci, José Andrés, Marian Wright Edelman and Clive Davis. Each of the night’s honorees were presented with a uniquely designed portrait.
“I think it’s so important for the National Portrait Gallery to see a black woman smiling. Black women are often seen as serious, and we are, but we are happy as well. We are the mothers. We are wives. And we are the backbone of this country,” Williams told PEOPLE about her portrait.
“It’s very rare that you see a piece of art and you see that much teeth. You think about the Mona Lisa, she had a smirk, and now you see a genuine smile.”
Additionally, former Sen. Hillary Clinton, Amazon Founder Jeff Bezos, Grammy Winner Alicia Keys and Starbucks Chairwoman Mellody Hobson were in attendance. Jewell stepped in as the featured performed during the ceremony.
“This year’s Portrait of a Nation Gala strengthens our commitment to contemporary portraiture,” Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery Director Kim 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.”