Amy Sherald, the Baltimore-based artist who is known for her colorful portraits of African Americans and for exploring the ways people create and perform their identities in response to social, political, and cultural expectations, has been named the winner of the 2018 David C. Driskell Prize, which honors artists for their contributions to African American art.
“Sherald is a remarkable talent who in recent years has gained the recognition she so thoroughly deserves as a unique force in contemporary art,” High Museum of Art director Rand Suffolk said in a statement. “We are honored to select her as this year’s recipient and to support her incredible work, which celebrates America’s diversity and rich cultural heritage.”
In October of last year, Sherald was commissioned to paint the official portrait of former first lady Michelle Obama for the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery. Artist Kehinde Wiley was selected to paint the official portrait of former president Barack Obama. The artists’ portraits were unveiled on Monday, February 12. In May, Sherald will have her first solo museum show at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis. Commenting on her practice, Sherald said, “My paintings hold up a mirror to the present and reflect real experiences of blackness today and historically, in everyday life and within the historical art canon.”
Founded by the High Museum of Art in Atlanta in 2005 and accompanied by a $25,000 cash award, the David C. Driskell Prize is named for the renowned African American scholar. Sherald will receive the honor at the fourteenth annual award dinner, which will take place at the museum on Friday, April 27. Proceeds from the event support the institution’s David C. Driskell African American Art Acquisition Funds. Since its inception, the funds have helped the institution add forty-eight works to its collection.