Artist Amy Sherald skyrocketed to fame in 2017 when the National Portrait Gallery commissioned her to paint former First Lady Michelle Obama’s official portrait.
Regarding her signature approach to painting Black subjects in grayscale, Sherald told colossal.com, “A Black person on a canvas is automatically read as radical. My figures needed to be pushed into the world in a universal way, where they could become a part of the mainstream art historical narrative. I knew I didn’t want it to be about identity alone.”
A Columbus, Ga. native, Sherald earned a B.A. in painting from Clark-Atlanta University in 1997 and was a Spelman College International artist-in-residence in Portobelo, Panama that same year. In 2016, Sherald won the first place prize in the prestigious National Portrait Gallery’s Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition, which celebrates excellence in portraiture art.
As BET continues to celebrate Women’s History Month, we snap our fingers and raise our hands in honor of Amy Sherald and the other Black women who did that.