Michele Obama portrait artist Amy Sherald's story
Baltimore artist Amy Sherald made a routine stop at a Rite Aid in October 2012. She needed supplies for her studio. The trip almost killed her.
While shopping, Sherald felt her heart galloping unevenly inside her chest, she later recounted in an interview. This was not unusual. Years earlier she had been diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, a form of heart disease. At the time, doctors said the 30-year-old graduate student had the organ of an 80-year-old woman, she said. The flutters were part of the condition. They usually just went away.
Such a medical condition upends any life, but for a young painter — already facing the long odds of mainstream success — the ailment threw new obstacles at Sherald. She was often sapped of energy, too exhausted to paint. To pay for treatment, she waited tables five nights a week.
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