Barack and Michelle Obama made a rare public appearance in the District Monday as their portraits were unveiled at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery.
The former president selected Kehinde Wiley, a painter trained out of Yale University, to complete his portrait. Wiley is known for his portraits of African-Americans in his Old Master style paintings, CNN reports.
Wiley is also the first black artist to paint a portrait for the gallery. His portrait of Obama will hang in the hall of presidents.
For her portrait, the former first lady selected Amy Sherald, a local artist out of Baltimore for the task. Sherald was the first woman to win the Portrait Gallery’s 2016 Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition.
“Let’s just start by saying, ‘wow,'” Michelle said after seeing the portraits.
She later took the time to thank Sherald in an Instagram post, saying, “I think about all of the young people who will visit the National Portrait Gallery and see this, including so many young girls and young girls of color who don’t often see their images displayed in beautiful and iconic ways.”
As a young girl, even in my wildest dreams, I never could have imagined this moment. Nobody in my family has ever had a portrait – there are no portraits of the Robinsons or the Shields from the South Side of Chicago. This is all a little bit overwhelming, especially when I think about all of the young people who will visit the National Portrait Gallery and see this, including so many young girls and young girls of color who don’t often see their images displayed in beautiful and iconic ways. I am so proud to help make that kind of history. But the fact is that none of this would be possible without the extraordinary artist and woman behind this portrait, @asherald. Thank you, Amy – it was a joy to work with you and get to know you.
Mrs. Obama’s portrait will hang in the recent acquisitions corridor.
In classic Obama fashion, Barack found a way to charm the audience, telling them “we miss you guys.”
We miss y’all too.
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