28 Facts About Amy Sherald


Amy Sherald was born on August 30,1973 and is an American painter.

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Amy Sherald's style is simplified realism, involving staged photographs of her subjects.

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In 2016, Sherald became the first woman as well as the first African American ever to win the National Portrait Gallery's Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition with her painting, Miss Everything.

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Notwithstanding this revelatory experience, Amy Sherald's parents wanted her career to be in medicine, and discouraged her from pursuing art.

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Amy Sherald's upbringing influenced the specific themes of interest to Amy Sherald in her painting career.

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Amy Sherald's position was further complicated by her light-colored hair and skin.

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Amy Sherald is a graduate of St Anne-Pacelli Catholic School in Columbus.

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Amy Sherald enrolled at Clark Atlanta University, where Sherald began college on the pre-med track her parents hoped for, but as a sophomore cross-registered for a painting class at Spelman College, which introduced Sherald to Panama-born artist and art historian Arturo Lindsay, whose work focuses on the African influence on the cultures of the Americas.

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Amy Sherald has been highly motivated as an artist, wanting to be a painter so badly that she waited tables until she was 38.

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In 1997, Amy Sherald participated in Spelman College International Artist-in-Residence program in Portobelo, Panama.

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Amy Sherald prepared and curated shows in the Museo de Arte Contemporaneo and the 1999 South American Biennale in Lima, Peru.

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Amy Sherald has taught art in the Baltimore City Detention Center, and in 2008 she did a residency the Tongxian Art Center in Beijing, China.

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Since her 2012 work Equilibrium, Amy Sherald has depicted the skin tone of her Black subjects in grayscale rather than flesh tones.

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Amy Sherald uses the gray hues to challenge an idea of race where skin color automatically assigns a category, part of a broader project to counter what she experienced as the limited narrative available to her growing up in segregated Columbus, Georgia only shortly after the Civil Rights Movement.

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Amy Sherald usually develops these paintings by inviting people she meets in her everyday life—for much of her career, in Baltimore—to sit for a photography session and then paints from the photographs.

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Amy Sherald came to prominence in 2016 when her painting, Miss Everything, won the National Portrait Gallery's Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition along with a $25,000 award.

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The competition noted that "Amy Sherald creates innovative, dynamic portraits that, through color and form, confront the psychological effects of stereotypical imagery on African-American subjects".

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Amy Sherald was the first woman and first African American to win the competition.

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Amy Sherald said the painting was inspired by Alice in Wonderland, noting the dress and the teacup, and said her work often “starts in a place of fantasy”, here lending itself to the possibility of “being seen as more than the color of your skin”.

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Year after Amy Sherald won the Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition, she was chosen by First Lady Michelle Obama to paint her official portrait for the National Portrait Gallery.

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The Obama portrait was a departure for Amy Sherald who had never taken a directed commission before, but in other respects her approach remained the same.

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Until that point based in Baltimore, in 2018 Amy Sherald moved to New Jersey and began working from a studio in Jersey City at Mana Contemporary, a former tobacco factory converted into artist spaces.

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Amy Sherald has a 2020 exhibition of five small-scale portraits of black women created over the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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In 2020, Amy Sherald painted Breonna Taylor's portrait on the September cover of Vanity Fair.

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Amy Sherald created this image of Taylor with her signature gray-scale skin coloring, along with a free-flowing blue dress against an aqua background.

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Amy Sherald's father died of Parkinson's disease in 2000, and her aunt developed a brain infection around the same time.

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Amy Sherald was diagnosed at the age of 30 with congestive heart failure when she went in for a normal checkup during her triathlon training.

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Amy Sherald was the recipient of a heart transplant on December 18,2012 at the age of 39.

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