Painter of Elijah Cummings Portrait Finds It’s a Career-Changer
The Baltimore artist Jerrell Gibbs was commissioned to paint Maryland’s late Representative. The official portrait will be installed at the U.S. Capitol.
When Representative Elijah E. Cummings died in October 2019 at age 68, he became the first African American elected official to lie in state at the U.S. Capitol, where he served for more than two decades in the House of Representatives from Maryland’s 7th District.
In January, the congressman’s official portrait, painted posthumously by the artist Jerrell Gibbs, will be enshrined for posterity in the Capitol, where fewer than 20 of the hundreds of portraits there are of Black leaders.
For Gibbs, 33, who only started painting six years ago and received his MFA at the Maryland Institute College of Art last year, the commission has “changed the way that I look at what I’m doing,” he said. “It gave me courage that people want to support what I bring to the table and believe that I have value.”
“Elijah was a hometown guy and we thought it would be poignant and very Elijah-like to have a Baltimore-based artist of color do his portrait,” said Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, the founder, president and CEO of Global Policy Solutions, who met the congressman in 1997 when she interviewed him for her dissertation and married him in 2008.