Debbie Millman | Audio

Amy Sherald

The subjects of Amy Sherald’s portraits are African Americans. They wear clothing with vibrant colors and patters, and they stand out from richly colored, textured backgrounds. They look right at us, and they seem to be taking our measure. Their portraits are beautiful, luminous, and intense. When Sherald was asked to paint Michelle Obama’s official portrait, she produced a painting that was a departure from the traditionally stodgy first-lady portrait. Wearing a voluminous dress, Obama is seated against a sky-blue background, and she’s looking right at us, taking our measure.

Debbie talks to portrait painter Amy Sherald about her emotionally evocative work. “I didn’t know I was doing it until I had a show, and I had like, three people start crying when looking at the work. And I was like, what is with y’all?”

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Posted in: Design Matters

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