Baltimore artist Amy Sherald unveiled her rendering of Michelle Obama at the National Portrait Gallery on February 12, 2018.

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Sherald likes to warn people that the artist’s path is not for the faint of heart.

In 2004, Sherald was training for a triathlon when she was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy and congestive heart failure. Then, in the fall of 2012, Sherald stopped at Rite Aid on the on the way to her studio. She blacked out and was rushed to the hospital. Her heart functioning had dropped to just 5 percent. She needed a transplant.

At StoryCorps, Sherald told her friend Elise Pepple how her failing heart pushed her to succeed as an artist.

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Top photo: Amy Sherald (right) presents her portrait of Michelle Obama to the First Lady. Courtesy of Saul Loeb / Getty Images.
Middle photo: Amy Sherald’s portrait of Michelle Obama. Courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery.
Bottom photo: Amy Sherald with her friend Elise Pepple. Courtesy of Naomi Blech / StoryCorps.