On Monday, two black painters unveiled the official presidential portraits of our President and First Lady at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait. Barack Obama’s portrait was done by Kehinde Wiley, making him the first black painter to create an official portrait for the National Portrait Gallery. The portrait shows our 44th commander-in-chief dressed in one of his impeccable black suits, seated in a wooden chair against a floral backdrop. Obama choose the Los Angeles, Yale University native for the project himself.
“What I was always struck by when I saw his portraits was the degree to which they challenged our ideas of power and privilege,” Obama says.
The portrait of our First Lady was created by Baltimore artist, Amy Sherald. The canvas shows our First Lady against a baby blue backdrop in a multi-colored dress, inspired by a quilt made by a group of black women in Alabama.
Sherald is best known for her work in depicting life-sized people of color in grey undertones. When choosing Sherald, representation mattered to Mrs. Obama.
“They will see an image of someone who looks like them hanging on the walls of this great American institution,” she says. “And I know the kind of impact that will have on their lives because I was one of those girls.”
Mr. Obama’s portrait will be hung in the hall of presidents and Mrs. Obama’s will hang in another gallery. Both portraits will be unveiled to the public on Tuesday.
No word yet on if there will be any miniature copies we can hang at our places, but we’re hoping!
A working journalist, entrepreneur and founder of RoyalTee Enterprises. Born and raised in Tampa, Fla. The vision of RoyalTee was inspired in 2015 by Alexia’s ambitions to return to her passion for creative writing and publishing and create a platform to showcase the excellence of minority women across the country through professional, personal and social ventures.