Arthur Haywood works to install a mural by Amy Sherald, the woman who painted the portrait of Michelle Obama for the Smithsonian, at 1109 Sansom in Center City Philadelphia on Wednesday, May 22, 2019. The girl in the mural, Najee Spencer-Young, is from North Philly. HEATHER KHALIFA / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER. Featured Image
But the truth of the matter is, Sherald is a giantess in the persnickety world of modern art because of the unique way she captures the likeness of everyday people — everyday black people, to be exact. Sherald paints African Americans in regal poses with haunting eyes. Our skin is colored in various shades of gray from slate to stormy. Sherald has won numerous awards, including the prestigious grand prize of the Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition in 2016.
That’s why it was such a big deal that Sherald agreed to partner with Mural Arts Philadelphia’s Art Education Program for the nonprofit’s crown jewel mural of 2019. The piece, Untitled, is emblazoned on the backside of a Center City Target, between 10th and 11th Streets on Sansom, and features North Philly teen Najee Spencer-Young. Sherald put the finishing touches on the piece Monday.