Blog / 2018 / “The People Who Don’t Get It Can Catch Up.”

April 11, 2018

I’m the only portrait artist a lot of people know, and, as such, these days I get one question more than any other:

“What do you think of Amy Sherald’s portrait of Michelle Obama?”

In response, I always say that even if people don’t think it looks like the former First Lady it doesn’t matter. Sherald is showing us the person she met, not the one we imagine. I explain to people that I’m protective of other artists in general and especially of portrait artists. I’m supportive of their vision and their freedom of expression, because I know how difficult the job is.

And until the other day, I also told people that I knew nothing of the artist’s process or of Obama’s reaction to the portrait. I had avoided doing research about it because I didn’t feel I needed to since I was happy with the portrait.

colorful portrait drawing of the artist Amy Sherald
Gwenn Seemel
Amy Sherald
marker on paper
8 x 5 inches

But then this interview with Sherald appeared in one of my social media feeds and I caved. Just minutes into the podcast, I was so glad I decided to listen. If you’re feeling unsure about the piece—and even if you’re not—please take the time to hear Sherald tell it in her own words.

My favorite part of the interview is when Sherald says:

“The people who don’t get it can catch up.”

Sherald is now officially one of my heroes.


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