Artist Amy Sherald says about her work,
“These paintings originated as a creation of a fairytale illustrating an alternate existence in response to a dominant narrative of black history.”
Sherald grew up in Columbus, Georgia and from the time she started kindergarten, one of two or three black children enrolled in her private school, she was well aware of her race,
“You’re different from everybody else. You need to speak a certain way and act a certain way. That’s what my mom told me on the first day of school.
In sociology they call it ‘code switching’. I can feel just as comfortable in a room full of people who don’t look like me because I understand the social cues of class and race.”
Sherald visited the Ringling Circus museum in Sarasota, Florida, and realized a correlation. Those involved in circus life were constantly playing a role, the particularities that constrained them in their everyday lives transformed into feats of strength, wonder and beauty.
“I thought it was interesting that people made a living in this way ― their deformities or things that were wrong with them became a way out of poverty. Circuses became these little functioning cities all their own.
Why can’t I make up my own characters and paint the people I want to see in the world? I’m depicting the many people who existed in history but whose presence was never documented.”
In Pilgrimage of the Chameleon, a man in a fur-lined coat holds a bundle of multicolored balloons. In Miss Everything (Unsuppressed Deliverance), a woman in a red party hat and white gloves sips from a teacup.
“We get the same stories of who we are ― stories filled with pain, oppression and struggle. But there are other sides to black lives that are not often represented. I’m painting these people.”
Her solo exhibition A Wonderful Dream is on view until August 27, 2016 at the Monique Meloche Gallery in Chicago.
(via Huffington Post)