Interview: Amy Sherald On Bearing Witness, Social Anxiety, and Finding Respite in Her Work

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#Amy Sherald #painting #portraits

A portrait of man with an open shirt holding a leaf on a blue background

“The lesson of the falling leaves” (2017), oil on canvas, 54 x 43 x 2 1/2 inches. Photo by Joseph Hyde. All images © Amy Sherald, courtesy of the artist and Hauser & Wirth, shared with permission

Here’s what painter Amy Sherald has always known about herself: She was born to be an artist.

In a new conversation with Colossal contributor Paulette Beete, Sherald says that she was born to bear witness to Black life, with painting becoming a “corrective” to the struggle story that’s often the only one told about Black communities.

Portraiture, for me, is having the opportunity to tell a story, to tell my story, to tell our story (as Black people), to have the portrait work in ways that are creating a counter-narrative, a corrective narrative, but then also a narrative that can carry us into our future selves. They have the capacity to be mirrors for today and also vessels to look through to see into the future.

Sherald discusses her early desire to work with her hands, why she prefers removing context and instead painting solid backgrounds, and how her practice offers a place of rest and hope in a heartbreaking world.

Read the conversation.

A portrait of a young girl wearing a yellow dress with strawberries on a pink background

“They Call Me Redbone but I’d Rather Be Strawberry Shortcake” (2009), oil on canvas, 54 x 43 inches, National Museum of Women in the Arts

#Amy Sherald #painting #portraits

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