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AMY SHERALD: The Portraitists

‘People who don’t quit eventually rise to the top.’ 

As a child I was very quiet. I always drew, or I was painting or looking at paintings in encyclopedias. I kept myself busy with pencil and paper all the time. Art is the thing that I knew I had to do with my life. The first time I went to a museum on a school field trip, I saw a painting of a black person. I remember standing there with my mouth open and just looking at it. I knew in that moment that I could do what I wanted to do. 

Working with Michelle Obama was really fun. There are people who don’t normally go to museums that are interested in art now. They are seeing themselves in different ways. That’s the most important part and focus for myself. Parker Curry, the little girl who went viral looking at the painting, thinks Michelle is a queen and that the National Portrait Gallery is her castle. She has a real, live person to look up to, versus a cartoon character. There’s a difference between fantasy and reality. Michelle Obama is reality. This painting is a first and she is a first. So it makes sense that that image doesn’t look like the other images, that it is as different as she is in the arc of history. (Time Inc.) #Blackhistory #AmySherald #artists 

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