13 February 2018

Nigeria: Barack and Michelle Obama Get Official Portrait

Photo: The Guardian
Barack and Michelle Obama's portraits.

An official portrait of the former first family of the United States, Barack and Michelle Obama, was unveiled at a ceremony at the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery yesterday.

The paintings were done by two [black] renowned artistes who are well known for painting black people, Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald. Wiley painted Obama sitting in a chair with an intense expression while Amy Sherals painted Michelle with a calm expression.

Obama gave this reason for choosing Wiley, "What I was always struck by when I saw his portraits was the degree to which they challenged our ideas of power and privilege.

Wiley, overwhelmed with gratitude, said, "The ability to be the first African-American painter to paint the first African-American president of the United States is absolutely overwhelming... It doesn't get any better than that. I was humbled by this invitation but I was also inspired by Barack Obama's personal story."

After the unveiling of her portrait, visibly ecstatic Michelle told the audience.

"As you may have guessed, I don't think there is anybody in my family who has ever had a portrait done, let alone a portrait that will be hanging in the National Gallery -- at least as far as I know, Mom," she said. "But all those folks who helped me be here today, they are with us physically and they are with us in spirit... I'm also thinking of all the young people, particularly girls and girls of color, who ... will see an image of someone who looks like them hanging on the wall of this great American institution... I know the kind of impact that will have on their lives, because I was one of those girls", Michelle told the audience.

Michelle's picture can be found in the "Recent Acquisition" section of the Portrait Gallery until November. Barack's picture will be in the "America's Presidents" exhibit at the gallery.

The pictures will be declared open for public viewing starting today.

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