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Baltimore artist Amy Sherald to paint Michelle Obama's official portrait

Amy Sherald, artist in residence at Creative Alliance, is part of the "About Face" show. (Lloyd Fox, Baltimore Sun video)

Baltimore artist Amy Sherald, who graduated from the Maryland Institute College of Art in 2004 and just joined the faculty there, has been commissioned by the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery to paint the official portrait of former first lady Michelle Obama.

New York-based Kehinde Wiley will paint the official portrait of President Barack Obama.

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The paintings are scheduled to be unveiled next year and added to the National Portrait Gallery's popular collection of presidential and first lady portraits.

Sherald's supporters think she's on the verge of becoming one of the most important painters of her generation.

Sherald's portraits of African-American models are known for her use of gray skin tones. Last year, she became the first African-American and first woman to win the National Portrait Gallery's Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition; she was chosen for the $25,000 award from among 2,500 entrants.

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Work by the Baltimore-based Sherald, 44, is in collections of the National Museum of Women in the Arts and the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington.

She will give a free talk at 5:30 p.m. Oct. 26 in Room 101 of the F. Ross Jones Building, Mattin Center, on the Homewood campus of Johns Hopkins University.

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