Skip to Main Content

Amy Sherald

Amy Sherald, artist, in conversation with Erin Christovale, assistant curator at the Hammer Museum. Amy Sherald (b. Columbus, Georgia, 1973) received her BFA from Clark Atlanta University in 1997 and her MFA from Maryland Institute College of Art in 2004. Sherald paints dynamic portraits designed to divulge an erudite understanding of the psychological consequences of stereotyping and racism. Each portrait depicts a friend or acquaintance suspended in vivid fashions before a nondescript background; skin tones are represented using a grayscale as a way of challenging the concept of color-as-race. Sherald is critical of African American cultural history and the representation of black bodies, and her portraits are satirical manifestations of identities shaped by political, social, economic, and cultural influences. In 2016 Sherald was the first woman to win the Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition grand prize from the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery. The Outwin 2016: American Portraiture Today exhibition tours to three other US museums until January 2018. Other recent group shows include Southern Accent, coorganized by the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University and the Speed Art Museum, Louisville, and Face to Face: Los Angeles Collects Portraiture at the California African American Museum in Los Angeles. Her next solo exhibition opens at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis in mid-2018. Sherald lives and works in Baltimore. In this conversation held on October 29, 2017, at the National Gallery of Art, Sherald discusses her career, artistic process, and latest projects with Erin Christovale. This program is coordinated with Now Be Here #4, DMV, the fourth and final US iteration of a project to gather female and female-identifying visual artists for a group photograph of historic proportions.