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  • Erica Ponder

A Work of Art: Barack and Michelle Obama’s official portraits unveiled

By: Erica M. Ponder

Black History was made Monday as Barack and Michelle Obama unveiled their official portraits at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery!

A tradition for most former presidents, the official reveal of these beautiful paintings were highly anticipated as the Obamas selected artists Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald to do the huge honor of painting these phenomenal, non-traditional portraits! Did we mention they are the first African-Americans to be chosen for such a task?!

Painting by Kehinde Wiley

“What I was always struck by when I saw his (Wiley’s) portraits was the degree to which they challenged our ideas of power and privilege,” Former President Obama commented during the presentation.

Being the personable man that he is, Obama also pointed out the many similarities he and Wiley have. “What we did find was that we had certain things in common. Both of us had American mothers who raised us with extraordinary love and support. Both of us had African fathers who had been absent from our lives, and in some ways our journeys involved searching for them, and what that meant. I ended up writing about that journey and channeling it into the work that I did because I cannot paint,” he said.

Painting by Amy Sherald 

Our favorite first lady seemed extremely pleased with her portrait as she stressed the importance it will have on young women of color. “They will see an image of someone who looks like them hanging on the walls of this great American institution … And I know the kind of impact that will have on their lives because I was one of those girls,” she said. Our former president also thanked Sherald for perfectly capturing the “grace and beauty and intelligence and charm and hotness” of the woman he loves so much. As you can see, they are still the epitome of “relationship goals!”

Welp, it looks like Black History Month has been going pretty good so far! With all of this flavor, the National Portrait Gallery will never be the same…


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