Transformative Art Prize Mural Dedication - Amy Sherald

  • Equilibrium by Amy Sherald

    Permanent installation: U.S. Embassy Dakar, Senegal, Art in Embassies (AIE), Photo courtesy: Michael JN Bowles

The Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts (BOPA) dedicates a Transformative Art Prize project by renowned artist Amy Sherald, in partnership with Station North Arts & Entertainment District. A large-scale version of the artist’s oil on canvas painting, “Equilibrium,” will be installed at Stavros Niarchos Foundation Parkway Theatre, 5 W. North Ave., Baltimore, MD 21201, situated at the geographic center of the city. After the dedication, guests are invited to a brief reception at the Parkway. 

The original painting is in the permanent collection of the Embassy of the United States, Dakar, Senegal. Originally awarded in 2014, the Transformative Art Prize project is managed by BOPA and supported by Baltimore City Department of Housing & Community Development, Station North Arts & Entertainment District and Charles North Community Association. PNC Bank was a dedicated supporter of this project in 2014.  

Artist Statement

I am excited to unveil this mural of “Equilibrium” in Baltimore, in a community so foundational to my portraits of Black Americans. To situate this piece along North Avenue, the electric nerve of our city, blocks away from my studio, is to return my artwork to the central muse of my creative practice for over a decade. My paintings celebrate the stories of light and love contained within the magical presences of the people who walk this stretch each day. And so, just as I am honored that “Equilibrium” is part of the US State Department’s permanent collection in Dakar, Senegal, I am grateful for the opportunity to bring it back to Baltimore, to the very place where this project began.

I am a conceptual artist and an American realist. My paintings imagine the versions of ourselves that thrive when extricated from the dominant historical narratives in ways that allow them to be employed as archetypes. “Equilibrium” embodies that idea. Ask its protagonist to tell you who she is, why she is, how she arrived here. Once my paintings are complete, the model no longer lives in that work as herself. And with this mural, she breathes large, she watches over us, she comes to symbolize what I know her to be.

It is a privilege for my work to participate so publicly in the future of our city, in its forward envisioning. As a figurative painter, my art primarily exists indoors: in institutions, in homes, in museums, in my studio. It is humbling and immensely powerful to share this painting on a broad and democratic scale, in a context that I hope invites its citizens to find themselves and their experiences of Black life reflected back into the spaces they inhabit and in which they shine.

- Amy Sherald

About Amy Sherald

Amy Sherald (American, b. Columbus, GA 1973, lives and works in Baltimore, MD) received her MFA in painting from Maryland Institute College of Art (2004) and BA in painting from Clark-Atlanta University (1997), and was a Spelman College International Artist-in-Residence in Portobelo, Panama (1997). Known for her stylized portraits of African Americans, in 2016, Sherald was the first woman to win the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery’s Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition; an accompanying exhibition, “The Outwin 2016,” was on tour through August 2018. In February 2018, Sherald unveiled her official portrait of Former First Lady Michelle Obama, commissioned for the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C. Sherald has had solo shows at venues including Monique Meloche Gallery, Chicago, IL (2016); Reginald F. Lewis Museum, Baltimore, MD (2013); and University of North Carolina, Sonja Haynes Stone Center, Chapel Hill, NC (2011). A solo exhibition of new and recent works first opened at Contemporary Art Museum, St Louis, MO in May 2018 and will travel to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, AK, and Spelman College Museum of Fine Art, Atlanta, GA. Recent group exhibitions include “Southern Accent,” Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, Durham, NC (2016), which traveled to Speed Museum of Art, Louisville, KY (2017), and “Face to Face: Los Angeles Collects Portraiture,” California African American Museum, Los Angeles, CA (2017). Residencies include Odd Nerdrum Private Study, Larvik, Norway (2005); Tong Xion Art Center, Beijing, China (2008); Creative Alliance, Baltimore, MD (2016); and the Joan Mitchell Foundation, New Orleans, LA (2017). Sherald’s work is held in the public collections of the Embassy of the United States, Dakar, Senegal; the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, D.C.; Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Washington, D.C.; Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C.; The Columbus Museum, Columbus, GA; Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City, MO; and Nasher Museum of Art, Durham, NC. Sherald is represented by Hauser & Wirth, New York.