Fans across the world were devastated by the news of the tragic death of actor Chadwick Boseman at the young age of 43. Boseman, who was perhaps best known for his portrayal of Black Panther in Marvel’s blockbuster “Avengers” film franchise, passed away in August after a four-year battle with colon cancer.
Recently, a touching art installation was unveiled at Disneyland’s Downtown Disney District in Anaheim, Calif. to honor Boseman and his legacy. Created by artist Nikkolas Smith, the moving piece, entitled “King Chad,” depicts Boseman sharing a “Wakanda Forever” salute with a young boy wearing a Black Panther mask.
According to “Black Panther” director Ryan Coogler, the inspiration for the salute’s creation comes from three sources — the way Pharaohs are laid to rest, West African sculptures, and the fact that the gesture means “hug” in American Sign Language.
Smith was on-site to be among the first to see his artwork unveiled to the public. His statement detailing his inspiration for the installation accompanies the piece:
“I had the honor of working on a major children‘s hospital initiative and Avengers Campus as my final two assignments,” Smith said. “Seeing Chadwick’s heart for people in-person, and later discovering his courageous battle with cancer, I was inspired to create this tribute to honor his life and legacy. To us, he was and will always be T’Challa. Long Live The King.”
In an Instagram post sharing several images of himself with the work, Smith added that he was thankful he was able to honor the actor.
“To millions of kids, T’Challa was a legend larger than life, and there was no one more worthy to fill those shoes than Chadwick Boseman,” he said.
The installation brings a sentimental focal point to the Downtown Disney District, Disneyland Resort’s shopping, dining and entertainment district. This area is the only portion of Disneyland that has reopened to the public since the March closure of Disneyland’s theme parks, hotels, and Downtown Disney. Disney parks chairman Josh D’Amaro has stated that Disneyland is ready to reopen once theme-park reopening guidance is issued by the state of California.