Creatively Cool 2015: Amy Sherald
Before reaching the door of Amy Sherald’s home and studio, at the end of the hall of Creative Alliance’s second floor, we already felt immersed into her world, as some of her massive portraits leaned against the adjacent wall.
Once inside her space, the smears of paints in various colors more so made for tabletop decor, rather than what probably is a work station for the 42-year-old artist. And the paint tubes and cups filled with brushes seemed to have a natural place in the day-lit abode.
Simply put, Sherald is living her true form as a creative.
“Creativity is the way that I interact with the world, ” she said. “Creating images is about painting the things I want or wanted to see in the world.”
Sherald was in her junior year of college when she made the decision to switch majors from pre-med, to working on receiving a major in painting. It’s a choice that has been evidently the right one as she has been awarded for her work and has exhibited them in countless of galleries and museums from ones in Panama to just about all over in the States, including Baltimore’s Reginald F. Lewis Museum.
She’s known for painting larger-than-life portrayals of black men and women of what are alternative -even fantastical identities. Walking into a room full of her work hanging on the walk takes you on a ride of imagination, but also evokes the discussion of race, questioning what truly defines blackness. The fluidity of the topics of art and analysis of black history mesh as smoothly as the blending of her paint strokes.
And as uprisings took over this summer in Baltimore, bringing to the forefront the issues of race, inequalities and stereotypical identities, Sherald’s work is even more significant now than ever. It’s art that sheds light on having a more open mind towards one another and internalizing beyond the complexion of each other’s skin.
In addition to painting, Sherald has been volunteering as an art therapy teacher for a program, called Elevation, in the Baltimore City Detention Center. “It’s a great program that needs to be shared.”
If you’ve ever received an email from Amy Sherald, hopefully you’ve noticed her signature, where she quotes herself.
“Look at a painting instead of a television, it changes the channels in your brain.”
The work Sherald puts forth gives significance to what is usually a frequently miswritten, yet important storyline: the black identity. She uses her form of creativity to paint those who are underrepresented, she said, within a historical narrative of an art perspective.
“My portraits speak to the past and present times and this means a great deal to me because I’m correcting narratives and creating them all at the same time.”