Amy Sherald, by Victoria Fitzgerald

To highlight the reach and importance of the women artists featured in Separation of Art with a Capital “A”, we asked fellow curators to tell us about a favorite work by one of these artists in their collections.

Adria Gunter, Curatorial Assistant at the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University sent us the following on Amy Sherald and her painting Light is easy to love.

Amy Sherald, Light is easy to love., 2017. Oil on canvas, 54 × 43 inches (137.2 × 109.2 cm). Collection of the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University. Gift of Jennifer McCracken New and Jason G. New, in honor of Sarah Schroth; 2017.3.1. © Amy Sherald. Image courtesy of the Nasher Museum of Art.

“Amy Sherald’s portraits are intimate explorations of the complexity of Black identity. Light is easy to love. is one of the many figurative works by Black artists featuring Black subjects in the Nasher Museum’s collection. Drawing on her childhood experience of being one of only a few Black children in her southern private school, Sherald is interested in the construction of identity within various political, social, and economic spheres. She has stated: “I was raised to be conscious of how I acted, spoke, and dressed. I learned this was the key to my social acceptance and assimilation.”

Sherald also modifies her subjects’ skin color; instead of using shades of brown, she mixes black and yellow paint to create gray skin tones. In doing so, she encourages viewers to consider the ambiguity of race, and to recognize the roles that performance and perception play in daily life. The soft, pink background, the subject’s cherry-print sweater, and the pearl earring peeking behind her curls are indicative of the playful youthfulness and femininity imbued in the work. Much like the subjects in Sherald’s other works, she gazes back at the viewer with calm self-assurance, ready to take on life’s challenges and joyous moments that lie ahead of her.”

Click on the Image to Explore the Nasher Museum of Art’s Collections Page