Former President Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama attended the official unveiling of their portrait on Monday at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C
Barack Obama’s portrait was painted by artist Kehinde Wiley, and Michelle portrait was done by Baltimore artist Amy Sherald. are the first two African American artists to ever be commissioned to paint presidential portraits for the Museum.
In his portrait, Former President Barack is seated against a green floral background in a black suit and white shirt. The flowers in the painting are to represent important highlights of Barack’s life: African blue lilies for Kenya, his father’s birthplace; jasmine for Hawaii, where Obama was born; and chrysanthemums, the official flower of Chicago, for the city where his political career began. During his Speech, Obama explains why he chose Wiley to paint his portrait
“What I was always struck by whenever I saw his portraits was the degree to which they challenged our conventional views of power and privilege,” said President Obama, “and the way that he would take extraordinary care and precision and vision in recognizing the beauty and the grace and the dignity of people who are so often invisible in our lives, and put them on a grand stage, a grand scale, and force us to look and see them in ways that so often they were not.”
In her portrait, former First Lady Michelle Obama is shown seated in a long colorful dress that sits against a sky blue background — said she hopes her depiction will inspire young women.
“I’m also thinking about all of the young people, particularly girls and girls of color, who in years ahead will come to this place and they will look up and they will see an image of someone who looks like them hanging on the wall of this great American institution,” she said. “I know the kind of impact that will have on their lives because I was one of those girls, and when I think about those future generations and generations past, I think, ‘Wow, wow, what an incredible journey we are on together in this country. We have come so far.’ And yes, as we see today, we still have a lot more work to do, but we have every reason to be hopeful and proud. And I am truly grateful to have had the opportunity to stand alongside my husband and play a very small part in the history and in it’s future.”
See their portrait below !! [Swipe]
Kehinde Wiley’s portrait of President Barack Obama was unveiled this morning in the National Portrait Gallery at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC. The artist has set Mr. Obama against greenery, with flowers that have symbolic meaning: African blue lilies for Kenya, his father’s birthplace; jasmine for Hawaii, where Mr. Obama was born; and chrysanthemums, the official flower of Chicago, for the city where his political career began. To me, it also symbolizes the hope and tremendous growth that we experienced as a nation, during his eight years in the White House. Amy Sherald’s portrait of Michelle Obama was also unveiled today. According to the New York Times, her piece “overemphasizes an element of couturial spectacle, but also projects a rock-solid cool.”