Eunice Kennedy Shriver is the creative force and organizer of Special Olympics, Inc., a nonprofit charitable organization that provides training and competition in Olympic sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities. In a special ceremony this morning, National Portrait Gallery unveiled a portrait of Shriver by artist David Lenz, winner of the Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition 2006. It is the first portrait commissioned by the museum of an individual who has not served as a president or first lady. The portrait is on display on the museum’s second floor rotunda.
Eunice Kennedy Shriver, has been a leader in the worldwide struggle to improve and enhance the lives of individuals with intellectual disabilities for most of her life. In 1957 Shriver became director of the Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. Foundation, which was created to deal with issues of mental retardation, and several years later she established a summer day camp at her home that became the basis for Special Olympics. In 1968 the Kennedy Foundation, working with the Chicago Park District, organized the First International Special Olympics Summer Games. Currently more than 1.3 million children and adults from more than 150 countries participate in the program. Shriver has received numerous awards and honors for her work, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Theodore Roosevelt Award of the National Collegiate Athletic Association.
David Lenz was commissioned to paint this portrait as part of the first prize in the inaugural Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition. Lenz ’s winning painting, Sam and the Perfect World, portrays his son, an active participant in Special Olympics events. For this commission, Lenz embraced the idea of making a portrait of Shriver that would also include five persons with intellectual disabilities who have been involved in Special Olympics and the Best Buddies program: (left to right) Airika Straka, Katie Meade, Andy Leonard, Loretta Claiborne, and Marty Sheets.
Listen to an interview with artist David Lenz (13:15)
Listen to the dedication ceremony, featuring remarks from Bobby Shriver and David Lenz (26:45)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver / David Lenz, 2009 / National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; Commissioned as part of the First Prize, Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition 2006