By Sydney Melson
The Birmingham Times
The renowned artist commissioned to paint Michelle Obama for the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. in 2018, and who painted Breonna Taylor for the cover of Vanity Fair magazine, will hold a virtual talk with the Birmingham Museum of Art on November 5.
Amy Sherald, known for her vibrant hues on Black bodies, inspired the BMA museum to host an exhibition – All Things Bright and Beautiful – which provides artistic representation in spaces where people of color often are not seen.
Now Sherald will share her wisdom with BMA patrons.
Hosting Sherald for the upcoming Chenoweth Lecture, a program where artists can talk freely about their work and what it means to them, “has actually been several years in the making,” said BMA Program Manager Carey Fountain. “Amy is quite busy . . . since we’re doing it virtually it’s more of a conversation, people can give us questions to ask,” Fountain said.
In a press release from the museum, Sherald’s work is described as a reflection of the people who live in Birmingham with eye-popping hues against a gray skin tone; represents the Black community in a way it is often not allowed in modern art – vibrant, colorful and unique. “For me, seeing her work has a way of reconstructing our ideas of the Black identity,” Fountain said.
Hallie Ringle, the museum’s Curator of Contemporary Art, said, “When people talk about Black children, they’re not really afforded the same sense of wonderment that other kids have. [Amy] is taking people that aren’t necessarily represented in art museums and making sure they have a spot here.”
It is important to have artists such as Sherald at the museum to highlight the beauty found in the Black community, Fountain said. “You go to Mountain Brook and see where the money is, or areas in [the city of Birmingham] that are gentrified, and then you go somewhere like Ensley and you don’t see those same resources being put into those communities,” she said. “[Sherald] shows the consistency of blackness with her skin tones, but then she uses bright colors to pull their identity out.”
Ringle said the response to Sherald’s work is positive. “People want to see themselves and their experiences reflected here at the museum, and I only ever see positive feedback about All Things,” she said.
Tickets to the talk with Sherald are free, and the event will run on November 5 from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. Guests can register on the museum’s website at artsbma.org.