Barack and Michelle Obama are making HISTORY again….for being GREAT people with integrity? That too, but for much much more.
The Obamas portraits are now part of the Smithsonian. The former first couple appeared on the public stage on Monday, February 12, to unveil their official portraits, a tradition for presidents. All former commander in chiefs’ portraits are hanging in the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.
Steven Spielberg, Kate Capshaw, Tom Hanks, Rita Wilson and Gayle King all attended the ceremony.
The former president was thrilled with the portrait of his wife, done by African-American artist Amy Sherald. “Amy, I want to thank you for so spectacularly capturing the grace and beauty and intelligence and charm and hotness of the woman I love,” the 44th president said. He also noted that Kehinde Wiley, the artist who did his portrait, was “working at a disadvantage because his subject was less becoming, not as fly” as the former first lady.
The former first lady 54, admitted she was “overwhelmed” by the beautiful painting of herself wearing a dress by Milly. Michelle thanked her mom Marian Robinson, who was sitting in the front row. Michelle then shared a story about how she met Sherald, an artist known for her unique style and ability to add in themes of social justice in her paintings. After their first meeting, the former first lady said she knew she wanted to work with her. “She and I started talking and Barack kind of faded into the woodwork,” she joked, saying she had a “sista-girl connection” with Sherald.
Michelle Obama: I’m “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.” (via ABC) pic.twitter.com/u7EWLEnaUL
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) February 12, 2018
The former president selected Wiley, an artist famous for his regal and colorful depictions of African-Americans posed in the style of Old Master paintings. Wiley became the first African-American artist chosen to paint the official presidential portrait.
“How about that? That’s pretty sharp,” the former president, 56, said as he took the podium, complimenting his portrait. “I tried to negotiate less gray hair and Kehinde’s artistic integrity would not allow [him] to do what I asked! I tried to negotiate smaller ears. Struck out on that as well.”
Wiley explained during the ceremony that the background of the former commander in chief’s painting includes many flowers representing the 44th president’s life: a chrysanthemum, the official flower of Chicago, the city he grew up in; a flower pointing toward Hawaii, where he was born; and a flower pointed toward Kenya, where his father, Barack Sr., was born.[source: UsWeekly]