The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery has commissioned a pair of rising-star artists—New York’s Kehinde Wiley and Baltimore’s Amy Sherald—to paint its official portraits of the former president and first lady.
"I’ve never been a woman of many words and a little reserved. I’m an observer. I like to sit, listen and watch"
"Sherald's life-sized portraits pull viewers in from across the room. Her subjects are African-American, but Sherald paints their skin in shades of gray. The charcoal flesh makes more vibrant objects — a two-piece yellow bathing suit, a red yarn wig — pop like fire-crackers."
"As time has progresses I have come to think of what I’m doing as an American painter in some ways is very similar to American Realism, which is painting the lives, and realities of everyday people. It’s not all about countering stereotypes, but it is also about making mirrors."
"Among contemporary artists, watch out for Amy Sherald, a Baltimore painter whose 2012 portrait of a vibrantly adorned woman, “Grand Dame Queenie,” will likely be a gallery showstopper."
“I don't think my successes would've come to me as easily, had I not committed to making the work in such a way that made me uncomfortable.” -- Amy Sherald
"Sherald’s paintings are full of strength, the kind gleaned from vulnerability, and topped off with the whimsical imagination that can prevail over suffering and hardship. Although rooted in history, Sherald uses the past as a point of ascent, replacing the conventional modes of blackness and whiteness with so many shades of charcoal."
"The artists below, in early or mid-career stages in their practices, span Los Angeles to Baltimore, Johannesburg to Zurich, with a strong contingent in New York (where figuration is especially palpable). Each are creating inspiring figurative paintings that speak to the present, and offer glimpses into the future."
"EXPLORING RACE, REPRESENTATION AND PERFORMANCE, there is a certain something about the portraits painted by Baltimore artist Amy Sherald. Painted in grayscale, the bodies of her subjects are absent of color. Everything else in the large-scale fantastical portraits of African Americans—their distinctive clothing and the background against which they are set—celebrates color."
"Racial identity is the theme of the winning portrait by Baltimore-based artist Amy Sherald who grew up in Georgia where she was conscious of the way society expected a young African American girl to behave."
"Baltimorean Amy Sherald has captured the top prize -- and $25,000 -- in a prestigious national competition sponsored by the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery."
"How do we keep from being viewed as just these two races? Can we make it more kaleidoscopic? I feel like I am making a rough draft now. These paintings are the piecing together."