This week the portraits of former President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama were unveiled at the National Portrait Gallery.
New York City-based painter Kehinde Wiley depicted Barack Obama as his other subjects, surrounded by vibrant floral print and radiant colorways.
Obama is sitting in a wooden chair with green vines and hints of colorful flowers surrounding him. The lilies, chrysanthemums and jasmine flowers highlight his glowing skin.
Baltimore- based painter Amy Sherald portrayed Michelle Obama similar to her other subjects, just like Wiley.
To find the meaning behind Michelle Obama’s portrait is a mystery at first glance but the pastel monochrome backdrop and gray skin tone represent power.
The stripping of the former First Lady’s skin turns out to be a gain, but some critics may disagree. She looks dreamlike and unworldly which is far from how she is represented in the media.
The dress Mrs. Obama is wearing has a geometric print which mixes rectangles, triangles, and circles. An interesting reference to Gees bend quilts that were made by the women of Gees Bend, a small community in Alabama. These women have created these Gees bend quilts since slavery.
“I’m also 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 of this great American institution,” Mrs. Obama said during the presentation.
These presidential portraits can be seen in our nation’s capital, Washington, DC. For further information visit npg.si.edu/visit.