The official portraits of the first African American President and First Lady of the United States are finally here – and they are Black excellence personified.
Back in October, the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery announced that Barack and Michelle Obama handpicked Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald to paint their official portraits, making them the first Black artists to be commissioned to paint a presidential couple for the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery.
On Monday morning, the Obamas unveiled Wiley and Sherald’s work at the National Portrait Gallery, and as expressed by Michelle Obama, they were “overwhelmed.”
Photo credit: Mark Wilson/Getty
“To call this experience humbling would be an understatement,” expressed Barack Obama. “Thanks to Kehinde and Amy, generations of Americans — and young people from all around the world — will visit the National Portrait Gallery and see this country through a new lens.”
Photo credit: Olivier Douliery/ABACA USA/INSTARimages.com
As for Michelle, she said she shared a “sista-girl connection” with Sherald.
“I’m thinking of all the girls of color who will come and see someone who looks like them hanging on the wall of this great American Institution,” said Michelle Obama during the ceremony. “And I know the kind of impact that will have on their lives, because I was one of those girls.”
Wiley is a New York-based visual artist known for implementing western ideals of style in his hyperrealist portraits of urban Black and brown men against floral backgrounds, and Sherald, an up-and-coming Baltimore-based artist known for using gray skin tones for her subjects, as well as painting cultured portraits of Black women.
As you can see, both artists maintained and brought their own style of art to the official portraits of our favorite first couple. Sending a huge congratulations to Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald on their historic work.