Header Image: "Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama", 2018. Oil on linen.
Amy Sherald is known for her striking portraits of contemporary African Americans. Set in front of a single bright colored background, Sherald would only paint her figures in shades of gray. While she mentions that it is an aesthetic choice, there are many different dialogues that could arise from this single choice alone. Early on in her career, she avoided painting any figures that would be immediately recognizable as Black. She didn’t want to immediately politicize her works by painting Black people in her paintings. But now, it’s almost the opposite of that. Her works are now her way of fighting against the white-dominant narrative that exists in media and history.
Sherald had a bit of a moment in the spotlight when she was chosen to paint former First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama. As with all of her other paintings, Obama was holding a striking pose, in front of a single bright colored background. Her eyes are defiant and strong, capturing the attention of those who look at the portrait.