RaceAhead: Why The Obama Portraits Matter

RaceAhead: Why The Obama Portraits Matter

Former US President Barack Obama joked about his ears and grey hair and praised his wife Michelle Obama's "hotness" at the unveiling of the couple's official portraits at the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery on Monday.

Sherald says she and the former first lady looked at a few dresses before picking the one she ultimately wore.

Part of what Mr Obama saw in Wiley's work was the capacity to elevate ordinary people to the level of royalty, those "so often out of sight and out of mind".

"This portrait is unbelievable, but I really hope there's another version with the tan suit and a cigarette", one user commented.

The jasmine flowers represent Hawaii, Obama's birthplace; chrysanthemums to symbolize Chicago, where he and his family lived before the White House; and African blue lilies to represent his Kenyan heritage. His work, Obama said, like our democracy, "is not simply celebrating the high and the mighty and expecting that the country unfolds from the top down, but rather that it comes from the bottom up".

Sherald's strength is in teasing out the crux of a person, and she's very good at exposing a subject's most intimate truth through subliminal signaling.

"Ok, now draw me like I'm sitting in a large hedge". "As a young girl, even in my wildest dreams, I never could have imagined this moment", she wrote on Instagram. She also makes a point of painting "civilians".

More news: In South Africa, a defiant Zuma says he has been victimized

Sherald, like the former president, spoke highly of Michelle Obama, describing her as "a human being with integrity, intelligence, confidence and compassion". But at the lectern, introducing the six-by-five-foot " 'Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama, ' oil on linen, 2018", Sherald said that the shapes reminded her of Mondrian, and the diligent quilt-making of the black women artisans of Gee's Bend, Alabama. They truly must be seen - at least online - to fully appreciate.

"She's known for a lot of things and one of them is fashion, so I knew that was important", Sherald says.

"I would have been one of those athletes whose heart just stops and no one knows why", Sherald told the magazine.

Politico also suggested a hidden political message in Obama's choice of Smith as the gown's designer. His portrait is housed in another room of the Gallery, but under the same roof of those who show George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, who once owned slaves.

Wiley, an established artist whose work is held by prominent museums worldwide, has produced a characteristically flat, nearly polished surface, with intensely rich colors and a busy, sumptuous background that recalls his interest in portraiture.

But ultimately, it presents something new. As with many works of art, this was meant to be provocative ("I think at its best what art is doing is setting up a set of provocations", Wiley said in a 2015 interview).

Barton Girdwood produced the broadcast version of this story.

Related Articles

  • German SPD leader Schulz quits in bid to end turbulence over coalition

    German SPD leader Schulz quits in bid to end turbulence over coalition

    In a cartoon on Tuesday, the Sueddeutsche Zeitung daily showed Nahles with a whip riding an SPD snail. The far-right populist Alternative for Germany (AfD) entered the Bundestag for the first time.
    Kuwait-based fund pledges 1.5 billion to Iraq

    Kuwait-based fund pledges 1.5 billion to Iraq

    Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi also told the meeting that his government had managed to repatriate half of the displaced. Mr Abadi also said Baghdad was seeking to restore confidence in an worldwide community suffering from donor fatigue.
    United Kingdom  firms plan biggest pay rises since 2008, boosting rate hike case

    United Kingdom firms plan biggest pay rises since 2008, boosting rate hike case

    Another London-based agent, James Cameron of Vesper Homes, says the uplift in first-time buyers seen past year is no surprise. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note jumped to 2.882 percent as of 10:03 a.m.
  • Qualcomm's Snapdragon X24 LTE modem trounces fibre broadband speeds

    Qualcomm's Snapdragon X24 LTE modem trounces fibre broadband speeds

    With this, Qualcomm also revealed a list of 18 OEMs who will be using the x50 modem and 5G technology in their upcoming hardware. The Snapdragon X24, on the other hand, is a future-ready modem - setting the ground for 5G connectivity.
    BOILING POINT: Syria Threatens ISRAEL with 'Surprise' Attacks

    BOILING POINT: Syria Threatens ISRAEL with 'Surprise' Attacks

    Liberman acknowledged Israel's differences with Russian Federation on the matter, noting that "each side has its own interests". The situation is evolving constantly, and recently, we have reached a level where interstate war has become a real possibility.
    Eagles Fan BREAKS His Own Fingers to Attend Super Bowl Parade

    Eagles Fan BREAKS His Own Fingers to Attend Super Bowl Parade

    Thousands of fans flocked to the city Thursday morning, with some making their way downtown long before the sun even came up. Some say these fans care too much, but they don't read into what everyone else thinks; all they care about is their team.
  • Second federal judge halts DACA termination

    Second federal judge halts DACA termination

    The ruling stems from a lawsuit filed by AG Healey and a coalition of 16 other attorneys general in the U.S. Current DACA grantees can now request renewal while litigation to defend the program continues.
    Google is bringing Instant one-tap replies to messaging apps

    Google is bringing Instant one-tap replies to messaging apps

    Do take note of that a Smart Reply highlight has been taken off for Android Messages , but just for Project Fi clients as of now. Now, a team inside Google's internal incubator Area 120 is working to bring the Smart Reply feature to other chat applications.
    Scientists Made Self-Healing Electronic Skin For Robots

    Scientists Made Self-Healing Electronic Skin For Robots

    And if it gets damaged, the e-skin can be healed, and it can be completely recycled at the end of its useful life. Perhaps e-skin's most remarkable application-or its most disconcerting, depending whom you ask-is in robotics.
  • Google Launches AMP Stories To Bring The 'Story' Format To Mobile Web

    Google Launches AMP Stories To Bring The 'Story' Format To Mobile Web

    The Accelerated Mobile Pages Project ( AMP ) was launched in October 2015 to improve the performance of the mobile web. You can search for them from Google's homepage and they'll show up in results from major publishers.
    Ramaphosa to address rally as S.Africa deadlock tightens

    Ramaphosa to address rally as S.Africa deadlock tightens

    He added that ANC members should be supporting one another in defeating those who are protecting and keeping Zuma in office. Mr Ramaphosa has reportedly told ANC MPs that it is impossible to offer Mr Zuma immunity from prosecution.
    Kim's sister in South Korea on landmark Olympic visit

    Kim's sister in South Korea on landmark Olympic visit

    Spectators were visibly moved, HuffPost Korea reported, with some in the audience tearing up at the sight. Mattis also said he doubted that the sporting rapprochement would undermine US-South Korean ties.