The official portrait of former President Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama will be painted by Amy Sherald and Kehinde Wiley for the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. The Obama’s hand-selected these artists, making them the first black artists to paint a presidential couple. Simmie Lee Knox was the first African-American to paint a presidential portrait of Bill Clinton in 2004.
“Both [painters] have achieved enormous success as artists, but even more, they make art that reflects the power and potential of portraiture in the 21st century,” said Kim Sajet, director of the NPG in a statement.
Amy Sherald, well-known in the Baltimore community will paint the First Lady and recently became the first African-American woman to win the National Portrait Gallery’s Outwin Boochever Competition. The Smithsonian describes Sherald as challenging “stereotypes and probes notions of identity through her life-size paintings of African-Americans.” Sherald is a light in the darkness because she dealt with heart failure and receiving a heart transplant at age 39, and she spends her personal time teaching incarcerated inmates in Baltimore. You can check out some of Sherald’s work at the National Museum of African American History and Culture and National Museum of Women in the Arts. Her upcoming 2018 solo exhibition will be at the Contemporary Art Museum in St. Louis, MO.
The New York, based artist and LA native, Kehinde Wiley, will paint our favorite president Barack Obama. Wiley is internationally known for his amazing portraits that captured young brown and black men as European royalty with floral backgrounds. “Over the course of his career, Wiley, whom President Obama selected, has frequently portrayed young African-American men wearing the latest in hip-hop street fashion. His rich, highly saturated color palette and his use of decorative patterns complement his realistic, yet expressive, likenesses. The theatrical poses and props Wiley assigns to his subjects make references to iconic portraits of powerful figures by Western artists,” stated by the Smithsonian. Wiley attended graduate art school at Yale and recently received the U.S. State Department Medal of Arts back in 2015.
Sherald and Wiley are now a part of the Obama legacy.
Originally blogged on Campus Lately