Amy Sherald

Planes, rockets and the spaces in-between, Amy Sherald 2018

Painter Amy Sherald stepped out upon the national art scene earlier this year, with the unveiling of her portrait of former First Lady Michelle Obama. Ms. Sherald’s first solo exhibit of her work is currently on display at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis. Her paintings have been described as staged narratives or constructed identities. She paints portraits of African-Americans, many of whom she first meets in real life. She represents the features of each sitter as a master draughtsman of American realism and then decorates her subjects with fantastic props and costumes. The pictured painting is one of two in the show that has never been shown to the public. The artist has talked about her art as an act to “image the versions of ourselves that thrive when extricated from the dominant historical narrative.” “My paintings hold up a mirror to the present and reflect real experiences of blackness today and historically,” she says, “in everyday life and within the historical art canon.” She says that she was inspired to do portrait painting, because an art history book that her mother had, didn’t have any people that looked like her. While, all of her other paintings have the figures staring back, this one has at least one not and the other figure looking back over her shoulder. Probably, my aerospace background also contributed to my choice of this image. 

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