Amy Sherald, a Columbus native and nationally acclaimed artist who has a painting now hanging at the Columbus Museum, has been selected by former first lady Michelle Obama to paint her official portrait for the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery.
The Smithsonian made the announcement Friday in a news release posted on its website, also naming nationally acclaimed artist, Kehinde Wiley, as the artist selected by former President Barack Obama to paint his portrait. The two portraits will be unveiled at the museum in early 2018 and will be added to the Portrait Gallery’s permanent collection.
“The Portrait Gallery is absolutely delighted that Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald have agreed to create the official portraits of our former President and First Lady,” said Kim Sajet, director of the National Portrait Gallery. “Both have achieved enormous success as artists, but even more, they make art that reflects the power and potential of portraiture in the 21st century.”
Referring to Sherald’s work, specifically, the news release said: “Sherald challenges stereotypes and probes notions of identity through her life-size paintings of African Americans.”
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Sherald, a graduate of St. Anne-Pacelli Catholic School, grew up in a prominent black Columbus family. Her father, the late Dr. Amos P. Sherald III., was a local dentist. His uncle, Edward “Big” Sherald, operated Sherald’s Mortuary and a barbershop for many years.
In 2016, Sherald won the prestigious Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition, rising from among 2,500 entries in the national competition. Her winning painting, “Miss Everything (Unsuppressed Deliverance),” hung at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery until January.
In September, Sherald returned to Columbus as guest lecturer for an inaugural event organized by the Alma Thomas Society at The Columbus Museum. One of her paintings, “What’s different about Alice is that she has the most incisive way of telling the truth,” was one of three pieces purchased by the society with a donation made by Aflac CEO Dan Amos and his wife, Kathelen.
“At the end of each presidency, the museum partners with the White House to commission one official portrait of the President and one of his spouse,” according to the Smithsonian news release. “There are two sets of official portraits: one for the White House and one for the National Portrait Gallery.”