It Made Sense…Mostly In Her Mind 2011

Portrait of a young woman wearing appropriate horseback riding attire, as well as playful elements like a multicolored helmet and oversized bow. She is holding a child's toy unicorn and is set against a vibrant blue background.
Amy Sherald, It Made Sense…Mostly In Her Mind, 2011; Promised Gift of Steven Scott, Baltimore, in honor of the artist and the 25th Anniversary of the National Museum of Women in the Arts; Photo courtesy of the artist

Amy Sherald’s life-size portraits juxtapose reality and fantasy. The central figure in It Made Sense…Mostly In Her Mind wears jodhpurs and a jacket—an appropriate uniform for a horseback rider. However, her multicolored helmet and oversized bow seem more playful. Rather than portraying a rider and her horse, Sherald paints her figure holding a children’s toy unicorn.

The costumes and props in It Made Sense…Mostly In Her Mind come from Sherald’s imagination and personal experiences. This work may recall her childhood horseback riding lessons. Typical of Sherald’s work, the figure’s skin tone is rendered in grayscale, and the vibrant background provides no clues about the time or setting.

Sherald says, “My work is about taking blackness past the stereotypes and opening it up to the imagination. These paintings exist in the liminal space between fantasy and reality. They start with color and costume. Usually, the image comes first and the meaning and words come second.”

National Museum of Women in the Arts