The Baltimore artist Amy Sherald knew for more than a year that she had been selected to paint the portrait that would make her career. (Amy Davis / Baltimore Sun video)
Baltimore artist Amy Sherald’s portrait of former first lady Michelle Obama will have its official unveiling Feb. 12 at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington.
Sherald, 44, a graduate and faculty member of the Maryland Institute College of Art, was chosen by the Obamas to paint the official portrait. It will be unveiled alongside the official portrait of former President Barack Obama, which will be the work of artist Kehinde Wiley.
In 2016, Sherald’s portfolio won the Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition, earning her a $25,000 prize and a commission to paint a living subject for the National Portrait Gallery. That commission, Sherald decided, would be the Michelle Obama portrait.
Sherald’s works have been displayed at the Studio Museum in Harlem, and are in the collections of The National Museum of African American History and Culture and the National Museum of Women in the Arts. In May, a solo show of her paintings is scheduled for St. Louis’ Contemporary Art Museum. The Baltimore Museum of Art is in line to obtain one of her paintings this year.
The portrait commission has put Sherald on the national art map.
“Signing autographs is weird,” the artist said in October of adjusting to her newfound fame. “I’m an introvert, so it’s been a strain in that way. But this is everything that I’ve been working for my whole life.”
The portraits of both Obamas are set to be unveiled during an invitation-only morning ceremony at the National Portrait Gallery. Following it, Sherald’s painting of Michelle Obama will go on display in the museum’s Recent Acquisitions corridor through early November. The portrait of Barack Obama will become a permanent part of the museum’s America’s Presidents exhibition.