Keith Mayerson (b. 1966, Cincinnati) is best known for paintings canonizing iconic events and figures from American history. Depicting images culled from personal photographs, comics, movie stills, and news footage, Mayerson’s subjects range from celebratory—President Barack Obama, Annie Oakley, and Superman—to tragic, including the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. With a gestural style and vibrant palette, Mayerson’s salon-style installations reflect a collective mythology inflected with pop culture and queer histories.
Part of the ongoing series “My American Dream,” which first appeared in the 2014 Whitney Biennial, Emma González, March for Our Lives (2018) portrays Emma González, the youth activist and survivor of the February 2018 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida. Along with Sarah Chadwick, Jaclyn Corin, Ryan Deitsch, David Hogg, Cameron Kasky, and Alex Wind, González cofounded the gun control advocacy group Never Again MSD to stem the American plague of school shootings. Mayerson’s painting renders González in powerful detail during her famed speech at the March for Our Lives demonstration on March 24, 2018, in Washington, DC, where she recited the names of seventeen fallen classmates. For a period of six minutes and twenty seconds—the length of the shooting spree—González was silent as tribute. It was González’s “defiant optimism to bring the power of change to our world,” that inspired Mayeron’s portrait, adding that he “hoped to bring a sense of realness and to document in a painting what already is one of the most moving and public political performances of our time.”
Mayerson’s first major solo exhibition, “My American Dream” appeared at the Cleveland Museum of Contemporary Art in 2017. His work has been exhibited internationally, and he has participated in various group shows, including at the Underground Museum, Los Angeles (2018); Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2015); Whitney Biennial (2014); and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2013). His work is featured in the permanent collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Cleveland Museum of Art; Columbus Museum of Art; and the Davis Museum, Wellesley College, Wellesley, Massachusetts.