Barack and Michelle Obama already made history with being the first black presidential family in the White House. Now after having two of the best selling books as the 44th president released the 768 paged book titled A Promised Land and former 1st lady released her book Becoming, the couple’s portraits are on tour across the nation that were painted by Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald.
From the day that they were premiered at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery in February 2018. The portraits have gained much attention and gain many responses from the public. Now available for viewing at the High Museum in Atlanta, Georgia. The exhibit allows for you to see the portraits for yourself. With Mrs. Michelle Obama’s portrait presented first. You are able to understand the process of the artist and how they came together to have this remarkable portrait completed.
“My approach to portraiture is conceptual. Once my paintings are complete, the model no longer lives in that painting as themselves. I see something bigger, more symbolic.”Amy Sherald
Also at the exhibit, I like that you get to understand the artist more and their styles. Amy Sherald is a Georgia native who was raised in Columbus, Georgia and went to Clark Atlanta University and Spelman College. Just months before meeting Michelle Obama, Sherald was the first woman and African American artist to win top prize for portrait Miss Everything (Unsuppressed Deliverance) in the National Portrait Gallery’s triennial Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition in 2016. From Sherald’s style of artwork, you can tell that all of them have deep mean and is symbolic. “My approach to portraiture is conceptual. Once my paintings are complete, the model no longer lives in that painting as themselves. I see something bigger, more symbolic.” as she is quoted in the exhibit.
After moving on from Michelle’s portrait you come to understand the artist Kehinde Wiley. Gaining his artistic spotlight in the early 2000s after completing his MFA at Yale University. Kehinde became know for his unique artistic practice known as “street-casting, ” which Kehinde invited people, most strangers on the street to pose for his paintings.
“What I’m doing here in this particular commission is dealing not only with the idea of power in a portrait but literal power in a portrait.”Kehinde Wiley
When it came to working with former president Barack Obama, Wiley only had 30 minutes to take a picture and get the perfect pose that displayed Obama’s personality and strength. Also the difference with the president, this isn’t just a stranger on the street. This is the president of the United States of America. “What I’m doing here in this particular commission is dealing not only with the idea of power in a portrait but literal power in a portrait.” he’s quoted.
More within the exhibit, you get a better understanding why both artist chose specific styles and symbolism within their portraits. From Sherald making sure to capture Michelle’s strength and humility all while using her signature gray color tones. Plus Wiley adding specific flowers to Obama’s portrait that actually connect with Chicago, Hawaii and Kenya.
If you have a chance to go to the High Museum, I definitely suggest to check the Obama Portraits Tour while it’s there till March 20th.
Is the Obama Portraits Tour coming to your city? Checkout the list below: