Sherald's portraits share her vision of being Black in America. Her new work, created during the pandemic, is meant to be optimistic.
"I just want to put out in the world, a little bit of color and joy," Sherald said, adding, "I think we've all had to deal with a lot of grief and grievance this year."
In 2018, she was the artist who painted Michelle Obama for the Smithsonian's Portrait Gallery. Last year, she painted Breonna Taylor for the cover of Vanity Fair magazine. She has donated her magazine commission to college level social justice education.
"I like to paint about American stories, and becoming the first Black First Lady is an American story. And for Brianna, her story is unfortunately also another story of a Black American woman," Sherald said.
Sherald often works on a grand scale, climbing scaffolding and using real everyday people as models to tell her story.
Her new exhibit is called The Great American Fact. It is a reference to educator Anna Julia Cooper's book, written in 1892.
Her paintings are on view at Hauser & Wirth gallery in the Arts District March 20 through June 6 in the artist's first solo West Coast exhibition.
"My work is really about centering on Black people, and the Black experience in a more universal way. It's about my own mental health and my own well-being and like presenting images that are that are affirming. And it's about embracing my own American-ness," she said.
The artist further described her imagery: "A lot of people are, when they think about an American boy, or they think about an American surfer, or they think about an American city, an American couple in the suburbs, they have a certain image in their head. And so it's really a presentation about the fact of my own American identity."
Hauser & Wirth gallery is open to walk-ins from a standby line this weekend, but COVID protocols will limit the number of gallery visitors allowed at one time.
For more information about seeing the exhibit, click on Information for Amy Sherald Exhibit