Through her monumental portraits of African American subjects, Amy Sherald explores alternate narratives of blackness through the exclusion of color from the notion of race. The Baltimore-based artist is best known for her stylized, figurative paintings of vibrantly dressed individuals rendered in grayscale skin tones against flat, highly-saturated backgrounds that evoke a sense of timeless identity. “I’m painting the paintings that I want to see in museums,” she said. “And I’m hopefully presenting them in a way that’s universal enough that they become representative of something different than just a black body on a canvas.” Sherald was the first woman to win the Smithsonian’s Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition grand prize with her 2016 entry Miss Everything (Unsuppressed Deliverance). Former First Lady Michelle Obama tapped Sherald to paint her official portrait for the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., which was unveiled in early 2018 alongside Kehinde Wiley’s likeness of President Barack Obama.