Amy Sherald Among Canon-Expanding Artists Showing at Brooklyn Museum, United Kingdom’s National Portrait Gallery

‘She was learning to love moments, to love moments for themselves’ by Amy Sherald (2017) © Amy Sherald. Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth. Photo: Joseph Hyde

Even as artists follow their unique inspirations, their works in turn inspire—educating, illuminating, and filling us with wonder—and one of the most influential contemporary artists today is MICA alum Amy Sherald ’04 (LeRoy E. Hoffberger School of Painting). Evidence of her impact can be seen in the inclusion of her work in Giants: Art from the Dean Collection of Swizz Beatz and Alicia Keys, on view at the Brooklyn Museum from February 10 through July 7.

This major exhibition features names that loom large in the past and present of art, with pieces that spotlight works by major Black diasporic artists. The exhibition’s name also evokes the strength of the bonds between the Deans and the artists they support, and among the artists themselves.

And beginning on February 22, Sherald’s work will be included in a major study of the Black figure and its representation in contemporary art at the National Portrait Gallery in London. Titled The Time is Always Now: Artists Reframe the Black Figure, the exhibition will highlight the use of figures to illuminate the richness and complexity of Black life. As well as surveying the presence of the Black figure in art history, The Time is Always Now will also examine its absence.

Rising to fame after being hand-picked by former First Lady Michelle Obama to paint her official portrait, Sherald is part of a new generation of artists who have revived the Western art genre of portraiture by making it contemporary and relevant. Known for freeing her subjects from stereotypes and historical narratives of Black suffering, her artworks make a strong political statement about equality and the humanity of all subjects regardless of skin color.