“We’re just people, we have layered experiences. We should be able just to be, it’s not always about some performance of experience.”
Amy Sherald and Deborah Roberts are friends, fellow southerners, and tremendously talented artists. Each in her own way makes work that is meaningful without being didactic and facilitates thoughtful, critical consideration. What better people to talk with about the bounds of representation and the possibilities of portraiture? In January 2020, we caught up by phone in our respective locations—Amy in New Jersey, Deborah in Austin, Texas, and me in Durham, North Carolina—to talk about their work, ideas, and influences. This conversation has been edited and condensed for publication.