An American Story

Amy Sherald ’04 paints official first lady portrait for the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery.

“I paint American people, and I tell American stories through my paintings,” said MICA faculty member Amy Sherald ’04 (LeRoy E. Hoffberger School of Painting M.F.A.) following the unveiling of an artwork representing a fundamental piece of Americana, an official presidential portrait for the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery — more specifically, the portrait of former First Lady Michelle Obama. See more of Amy Sherald's work.

The first female African-American artist selected by the Smithsonian for a commission of this stature, Sherald was catapulted into the national spotlight when the portrait was revealed during the gallery’s 50th anniversary celebration on February 12. The distinctive work not only garnered attention of media around the world, the high volume of visitors gathering to view Ms. Obama’s portrait has resulted in its relocation to the 20th Century Americans galleries in the Great Hall, which provide a more spacious viewing experience.

Portrait of Michelle Obama against a light blue background. She is sitting with her chin propped on the back of her hand and is wearing a black and white dress with geometric patters. Her skin and hair are all painted in shades of black and grey.

Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama

Amy Sherald ’04
Oil paint
72 x 60 inches