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.
Watch: President Obama and artist Kehinde Wiley unveil Barack Obama's presidential portrait at the Smithsonian's Na… https://t.co/Ut9WnMADoM— NBC Politics (@NBC Politics) 1518451062.0
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.
Kehinde Wiley, the artist behind Barack Obama's presidential portrait: "The ability to be first African-American pa… https://t.co/4yole56Tyg— BuzzFeed News (@BuzzFeed News) 1518452697.0
"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."
Barack Obama says Kehinde Wiley's initial impulse was to portray him with scepters and chifforobes. "I had to expla… https://t.co/WgNQ9Lo69X— ABC News Politics (@ABC News Politics) 1518451155.0
"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?"
Former US President Barack Obama with his portrait's artist, Kehinde Wiley, after its unveiling at the Smithsonian'… https://t.co/UfaBFUF00b— HuffPost (@HuffPost) 1518451837.0
Watch Michelle Obama also touch on the impact her portrait will have on young girls of color:
Michelle Obama: "I am also thinking about all of the young people, particularly girls & girls of color, who...will… https://t.co/oNnTg4zzzl— CBS News (@CBS News) 1518452200.0
The reactions to the portraits on social media all point to awe—they are indeed stunning.
Can we talk about how stunningly powerful it is to see a black man in a garden the way Kehinde Wiley painted Barack… https://t.co/yx54ALBMSF— Brittany Packnett (@Brittany Packnett) 1518450807.0
So proud of the journey of Kehinde Wiley, who did the official portrait of President Barack Obama. He is truly a hu… https://t.co/Zg8397oMqV— Eugene Scott (@Eugene Scott) 1518455217.0
Michelle Obama on Sherald: "There was an instant connection, a kind of sister girl connection that I had with [Amy]… https://t.co/XLKZZUF9N0— Christina Coleman (@Christina Coleman) 1518449104.0
Monday morning joy as portraits of President and First Lady Obama are revealed by artists Amy Sherald and Kehinde W… https://t.co/5IufrM4tw4— Ava DuVernay (@Ava DuVernay) 1518450990.0
The iconography of the Obamas has always been one of the most fascinating things about their public lives. Their de… https://t.co/0iznaW2sB1— Jamil Smith (@Jamil Smith) 1518456145.0