New media artist R. Luke DuBois will unveil a multimedia portrait of activist DeRay Mckesson ’07 at his upcoming exhibit “Now” at the Bowdoin College Museum of Art (BCMA) on March 31.

The multimedia portrait will combine interview footage of Mckesson answering questions written by Bowdoin Student Government and the African-American Society with some of Mckesson’s preexisting tweets. 

Co-Director of the BCMA Anne Collins Goodyear said that the museum wanted to commision a piece for DuBois’ upcoming show that would resonate with the Bowdoin community, but DuBois was the one who chose Mckesson specifically as a subject. 

“From everything I have seen of DeRay Mckesson, he is someone who promises to be a really important figure for many many years to come in terms of drawing attention to important topics, framing ways of thinking about them and thinking through new approaches to interacting with one another,” Goodyear said. 

She added that this commission is a unique opportunity for the Museum, which has previously only acquired contemporary art and has never before commissioned a piece. 

“It’s very special to commission a work of art because commissioning always implies some type of a conversation between the artist and the institution or the individual that’s doing it,” Goodyear said. “That’s what makes this work special.”

Though the portrait was commissioned before Mckesson’s announcement of his decision to run for mayor of Baltimore, Goodyear is excited that the portrait will also contribute to questions about today’s political discourse and in particular, conversations about the Black Lives Matter movement and its political platform. 

“It will both give us an opportunity to connect with some of [Mckesson’s] private thoughts, the question on what his perspective is, and what has made him the political activist that he is,” Goodyear said. “The portrait will very consciously share his public face which has evolved through the medium of Twitter.”

Goodyear has worked with Dubois before. In 2014, Goodyear helped the National Portrait Gallery commission Dubois to create a portrait of Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin. As Dubois told the New York Times in 2014, the portrait was an “abstracted visualization of their search engine turned on them.” It combined video interviews of the founders and imagery of real-time Google searches on the same screen using software Dubois wrote himself.

 Meanwhile, the BCMA has a long history of displaying portraits. Two of the original pieces from James Bowdoin III’s private collection were portraits of Presidents James Madison and Thomas Jefferson, the latter of which is the portrait on the two dollar bill.

“The Museum, which of course is part of a college, is able to participate in a conversation about what political activism looks like today, what the Black Lives Matter movement looks like, what it looks like to give even-handed and equal consideration to all citizens,” Goodyear said. “And, by extension, I think that [we participate in] this question of what does it look like for the US to welcome many different points of view into our political discourse.”