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Kehinde Wiley's Official Portrait of Barack Obama Has Been Revealed

The National Portrait Gallery unveiled portraits—by two black artists—of the former president and first lady Michelle Obama today.

The National Portrait Gallery unveiled the official portraits of former president of the United States Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama in Washington, D.C. today.


This unveiling is historic, to say the least, because the two artists who were commissioned for this honor—Amy Sherald and Nigerian-American artist Kehinde Wiley—are the first black artists to paint official portraits of the first family.

"Working with Kehinde was a great joy, he and his team made it easy," Obama says. "Kehinde, in the tradition of a lot of great artists, actually cared to hear how I thought about it—before doing exactly what he intended to do."

"What we did find is that we had certain things in common. Both of us had American mothers who raised us with extraordinary love and support," Obama notes. "Both of us had African fathers who had been absent from our lives and in some ways our journeys involved searching for them and figuring out what that meant."

Wiley also notes on why he chose to feature flowers that connect with Chicago, Kenya and Hawaii in the portrait, saying:

"When you look at that painting...there's also botanicals that are going on there that nod to his personal story—in a very symbolic way what I'm doing is charting his path on earth through those plants. There's a fight going on between he and the foreground—who gets to be the star of the show? The story? Or the man who inhabits that story?"

Watch Michelle Obama also touch on the impact her portrait will have on young girls of color:

The reactions to the portraits on social media all point to awe—they are indeed stunning.

Photo by Meztli Yoalli Rodríguez

Dying Lagoons Reveal Mexico’s Environmental Racism

In the heart of a traditionally Black and Indigenous use area in Southwest Mexico, decades of environmental destruction now threatens the existence of these communities.

On an early morning in September 2017, in a little fishing village in the Pacific coast of Oaxaca, called Zapotalito, thousands of dead fish floated on the surface of the Chacahua-Pastoría lagoons. A 7.1-magnitude earthquake, which rattled Mexico City on September 19, was felt as far down as Zapotalito, and the very next morning, its Black, Indigenous and poor Mestizo residents, who depend on the area's handful of lagoons for food and commerce, woke up to an awful smell and that terrible scene of floating fish.

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Photo: YouTube Screenshot

Watch Focalistic & Vigro Deep’s New Music Video For ‘Ke Star’

The 'Lockdown Level 1 anthem' has come to life through fire visuals.

South African artist Focalistic has released a music video to accompany his hit single, "Ke Star" featuring Vigro Deep.

The rising artist continues solidifying his place with his effortless skill of blending his hip-hop roots with a love for amapiano.

South Africans certainly loved it enough to let it into their homes. Social media users quickly began sharing videos of themselves dancing away their lockdown woes to "Ke Star," helping share the track all over the world.

Directed by Steezus in Focalistic's childhood stomping ground, Ga-Rankuwa, Zone 2, the artist mentions: "The video was to try to explain the song in its fullest form and more importantly tell a genuine South African story. We're pushing a movement and there has to be visual representation." He certainly is representing the nation with pride.


Watch the music video for "Ke Star" here.


Focalistic Ke Star (Official Music Video) ft Vigro Deep www.youtube.com

(Youtube)

The 9 Songs You Need to Hear This Week

Featuring Olamide, Nasty C, Davido, Mr Eazi x Nicki Minaj and more.

Every week, we highlight the cream of the crop in music through our best music of the week column.

Here's our round up of the best tracks and music videos that came across our desks, which you can also check out in our Songs You Need to Hear This Week playlists on Spotify and Apple Music.

Follow our SONGS YOU NEED TO HEAR THIS WEEK playlist on Spotify here, Apple Music here and YouTube Music here

Check out all of OkayAfrica's playlists on Spotify and Apple Music.

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Listen to Alicia Keys & Diamond Platnumz’ New Song ‘Wasted Energy’

The Tanzanian music icon and American star team up on the track from her new album, ALICIA.