The 2021 Commencement ceremony at MICA will feature renowned artists Valerie Maynard and Amy Sherald ’04 (LeRoy E. Hoffberger School of Painting) as keynote speakers. In addition, both Maynard and Sherald will receive honorary degrees from MICA.
Born in Harlem, New York, Valerie Maynard is a preeminent African American visual artist with a long and vibrant career as sculptor, printmaker, and installation artist. Maynard’s work centers themes of social injustice and black resistance movements across the African Diaspora.
A key figure in the Black Arts Movement during the 1970s, Maynard was an exhibiting member of the first contingent of black American artists at the Second World Black and African Festival of Arts and Culture (FESTAC) held in Lagos, Nigeria in 1977. She has held positions as Artist-in-Residence at such notable institutions as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the Studio Museum in Harlem. Her public artworks adorn urban spaces in New York City and Baltimore, Maryland; and her work is housed in permanent collections in museums and galleries in New York, Mozambique, Lagos, Nigeria, and Stockholm, Sweden. Private collectors include Stevie Wonder, Lena Horne and Toni Morrison. As an educator, Valerie Maynard has mentored emerging artists at the Studio Museum in Harlem, Howard University, and the University of the Virgin Islands in St. Croix.
Amy Sherald ’04 (LeRoy E. Hoffberger School of Painting)
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.
Sherald was the first woman and first African-American ever to receive first prize in the 2016 Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition from the National Portrait Gallery in Washington D.C.; in February 2018, the museum unveiled her portrait of former First Lady Michelle Obama. In 2014, Sherald was awarded the Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters Grant. Sherald has also received the 2017 Anonymous Was A Woman award and the 2019 Smithsonian Ingenuity Award. Alongside her painterly practice, Sherald has worked for almost two decades along-side socially committed creative initiatives, including teaching art in prisons and art projects with Baltimore youth.
Visit amysheald.com to see her work.