The Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery held a big ceremony on Monday to unveil the official gallery portraits for Barack and Michelle Obama. Both the subjects and the artists were in attendance for the big reveal. But both portraits caused a lot of head scratching, with the one of Michelle Obama perhaps receiving the most mockery.
Black artist Kehinde Wiley was selected by Barack Obama to paint his picture. Obama was depicted seated in the middle of a bush.
While people wondered about the meaning of Obama being buried in the bush, with some wags joking about Obama putting “Bush behind him,” the bigger question was the Michelle Obama portrait.
If that’s who it really was, which seemed to be the biggest question.
From Daily Caller:
The painting was done by Baltimore artist Amy Sherald, who is known for her social justice painting style.
“Let’s just start by saying, ‘Wow,’ again. Let me just take a minute. It’s amazing. Wow,” Obama said after the portrait was unveiled. The moment was met with a gasp and applause.
Although Barack Obama praised Sherald’s work “for so spectacularly capturing the grace and beauty and intelligence and charm and hotness of the woman I love,” not everyone was feeling it.
Twitter exploded with comment from people who mostly said it didn’t look like her.
If Michelle Obama was disappointed, she didn’t let on, although she did say she was “overwhelmed.”
From Fox News:
After her portrait was unveiled, the former first lady said she “was a little overwhelmed, to say the least.”
She added, “I’m also thinking about all 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.”
Sherald, first-prize winner of the Portrait Gallery’s 2016 Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition, beat out 2,500 other artists to paint Michelle Obama.
“I paint American people, and I tell American stories through the paintings I create,” Sherald said. “Once my paintings are complete, the model no longer lives in the painting as themselves. I see something bigger, more symbolic, an archetype.”
Michelle Obama described Sherald “as a woman of extraordinary talent. It’s thrilling to see her get the recognition she deserves.”
[Note: This post was written by Nick Arama]