HerStory July 2019: Amy Sherald

July’s HerStory recipient, Amy Sherald, became a household name when she was announced as Michelle Obama’s choice as portrait painter for her official First Lady portrait. Along with the artist tapped to paint Barack, they were the first black artists ever to paint official presidential portraits. Although she’s been painted (see what I did there?) as an overnight success, she’s been a working artist for decades, and has an amazing body of work. 

Sherald’s work focuses on the black experience in America. For the most part, her subjects are the only focal point in her paintings; backgrounds are mostly monochromatic (although some of her newer pieces feature backgrounds that are a part of the story the painting is telling) and it’s the person being painted you are drawn to. She exclusively paints black subjects, often stopping people in the street and asking if she can photograph them for her work, but deemphasizes their skin tone by rendering it grey (in her words, as a “way of challenging the concept of color-as-race”), while choosing bright colors and prints for their clothing and backgrounds. 

Sherald’s style has been described as “magical realism” or “stylized realism,” and she is a portrait artist, first and foremost; no landscapes for her. Her subjects seem to be gazing at the viewer, not smiling, not acquiescing, but merely existing. The result is arresting; most of her subjects look out of the painting, unapologetically themselves, not smiling for the viewer, but they are thoughtful and strong. If you haven’t seen her work, get over to her website (http://www.amysherald.com/) and spend some time looking through her portraits; they are compelling and telling. Strong and empowering.

Our July colorway, Believing in the Good, is inspired by the 2018 portrait entitled She Always Believed in the Good About Those She Loved. In it, a woman gazes out of the portrait with a look of satisfaction on her face. She’s not smiling, nor does she need to be. She wears a dark blue dress liberally sprinkled with lemons (harkening to the seminal Lemonade album by our first HerStory recipient of the year, Beyonc√©). She looks like someone you want believing the good about you. It’s a stunning piece, and creating a colorway to pay homage to it was such a fabulous challenge.

July Sassy Holidays 2019: Bikini Day

July 5th is National Bikini Day, and we are here for it. The mid-1940s was when bikinis began to be worn, and they are named, for some strange reason, after the Bikini Atoll where the United States conducted atomic tests. Whatever, we are just happy that we are in communities in which body acceptance and inclusion is our bread and butter (as well as all inclusion/intersection/advocacy), and we love that we have spent that last couple of summers sporting our own bikinis. As the day approaches, we also find ourselves pouring over the lyrics of that 1960s song, She Wore An Itsy Bitsy Teensie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini. Do you realize that the entire song is all about how self-conscious the woman in the bikini feels about being in the bikini? Do you think the songwriter was simply making an observation? Was he attempting to empower her, and give her strength? Or was he just being a jerk, and judging her for wearing it? The popularity of the song DID boost bikini-wearing, and helped to usher in the era of the bikini-clad surf movies, so maybe the music group was all about empowerment.. At any rate, wear your bikini with pride on July 5th, and make sure you put sunscreen on!

She was afraid to come out of the locker

She was as nervous as she could be

She was afraid to come out of the locker

She was afraid that somebody would see

Two, three, four, tell the people what she wore!

It was an itsy bitsy teenie weenie yellow polka-dot bikini

That she wore for the first time today.

An itsy bitsy teenie weenie yellow polka-dot bikini

So in the locker she wanted to stay.

Two, three, four, stick around we’ll tell you more!

She was afraid to come out in the open

And so a blanket around her she wore.

She was afraid to come out in the open.

And so she sat bundled up on the shore.

So in the blanket she wanted to stay.

Refrain!

Now she is afraid to come out of the water.

And I wonder what she’s gonna do.

‘Cause she’s afraid to come out of the water.

And now the poor little girl’s turning blue.

So in the water she wanted to stay.

Refrain!

From the locker to the blanket,

From the blanket to the shore,

From the shore to the water

Guess there isn’t any more.

-Itsy Bitsy Teensie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini by Brian Hyland

Want a bikini body? Put a bikini on your body!

National Parks 2019: Rocky Mountain

2019 National Parks colorway Rocky Mountain in Sock

Every single time we see this park name, we start singing the John Denver song:

“But the Colorado rocky mountain high
I’ve seen it rainin’ fire in the sky
The shadow from the starlight is softer than a lullabye
Rocky mountain high (Colorado)”

This national park is “only” 415 acres, but you really feel like you’re on top of the world, and our colorway will help you get there.

2019 National Parks colorway Rocky Mountain in Sock