Stanford University is the home of interdisciplinary thinking that catalyzes innovation. Artists on the Future, The Komal Shah and Gaurav Garg Artist Conversation Series pairs renowned artists and cultural thought leaders to talk about issues vital to our society. The latest installment is a conversation between figurative painters Amy Sherald and Calida Rawles, who reimagine the representation of Black lives and envision new spaces for Black healing.

This free, virtual event will premiere on Monday, June 6 at 5pm (PT). Registration is required to receive a link. 

Amy Sherald documents contemporary African American experience in the United States through arresting, otherworldly figurative paintings. Best known for painting First Lady Michelle Obama as an official commission for the National Portrait Gallery, Sherald engages with the history of photography and portraiture, inviting viewers to participate in a more complex debate about accepted notions of race and representation, and to situate Black heritage centrally in American art.

Calida Rawles’s paintings merge hyperrealism with poetic abstraction. Situating her subjects in dynamic spaces, her recent work employs water as a vital, organic, and historically charged space. For Rawles, water signifies both physical and spiritual healing as well as historical trauma and racial exclusion. Her work has been featured in galleries and museums across the country, and on the cover of Ta-Nehisi Coates’s novel The Water Dancer

The conversation between Sherald and Rawles will be moderated by Matthew Tiews, Stanford’s Associate Vice President for Campus Engagement.

Watch the conversation on YouTube on Monday, June 6 at 5pm (PT). To receive the link to the premiere, RSVP at