Amy Sherald has said that her art has changed since she moved to Baltimore. Before her oil paintings were autobiographical, but now her works have taken on a more social context, exploring identity and the roles of race and gender in life-sized portraits.
Those portraits are earning Sherald, a Baltimore artist and 2004 graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art, a place on the national stage. Today, she won the Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition sponsored by the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.
"My work is inspired by fantasy and a little bit of reality," Sherald said after winning the prize. "I focused on creating a body of work that was an archetype and I think it's going to carry me for a while."
She is the first woman to ever win the prize, which comes with $25,000 and the opportunity to create a portrait of a living person for the museum’s permanent collection.
Sherald also has works at the Smithsonian African American Museum and The National Museum of Women in the Arts. She was born in Georgia, and receive a painting degree from Clark-Atlanta University before coming to MICA to earn her masters of fine arts in painting.
Her work has given her international exposure as well—she was an artist in residence at a program in Panama, studied with acclaimed painter Odd Nerdrum in Larvik, Norway, and installed and curated shows at the 1999 South American Biennale in Lima, Peru.
In Baltimore, she is an artist in residence at the Creative Alliance in Highlandtown, and has also volunteers to teach art at the Baltimore City Detention Center. See Sherald describe her experiences here.