Exhibition on view now through May 31 at Second Street Gallery in Charlottesville. Baltimore artist Amy Sherald’s work is personal and universal; by looking inwardly she extrernalizes a world of possible meanings. Her subjects exist in a fictionalized purgatorial landscape, and a shiny veneer of nowhere space that draws one in, but not too deeply. Statuesque, well-dressed and profound, Sherald’s subjects are often mirror-selves around whom she creates both gravity and mystery. Her intricate process begins with attention to the details in her surroundings – a keen focus that is trained on what others miss. Her starting point is a chance encounter with someone who embodies a specific set of characteristics that resonate with her. Her search for models is continuous, and followed by choosing or creating their costumes. She then paints each figure in gray hues, and photographs the models in color. The skin-tones that she develops are translated into gray on canvas by using black pigment and Naples yellow. Next, she positions each character within a shallow, atmospheric landscape or a liminal space that does not convey a sense of context, place, or time. By building her surfaces, portraits, and scenarios in this manner, Sherald commands her audiences to engage with each painted figure in a face-to-face encounter that is rendered as if it is staged under a spotlight. She says of her work that, “The liminality of the background also represents the amorphous personal space of my own existence within the context of black identity and my search for ways to clarify and ground it.” Sherald is the winner of the Pollock-Krasner Prize and her work appears in the collections of museums around the nation.