It’s no secret that the Obamas are the biggest celebrators of urban culture from rubbing elbows with Chicago’s Chance The Rapper, being BFF’s with Beyoncé and Jay-Z and even Mrs. Obama coming through for actress Yara Shahidi with a recommendation letter to accompany her Harvard University application. Throughout their time in the White House and beyond, it was always clear and comforting that the Obamas wanted young people to win and were completely invested in their commitment to cultivating leaders of tomorrow.
When it comes to choosing the artists who will create their official portrait, The Obamas continue to highlighting the work of groundbreaking black artists. BET reports that the Obamas have chosen Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald to create their official Smithsonian portrait. Wiley, a New York-based and Los Angeles-born portrait painter will be painting our former POTUS. Wiley is known for grandiose, Renaissance-inspired portraits of Black people against heroic and colorful backdrops. Hip-hop is very influential in his work and his art features the likes of Ice T, LL Cool J, Swizz Beatz, Spike Lee and others. A few years ago, PBS featured a documentary of Wiley’s work, “Kehinde Wiley: An Economy of Grace” featuring his creative process, selection of women, and partnership with Givenchy on making the gowns in his portrait series.
Our official FLOTUS portrait will be painted by Sherald, who is based in Baltimore, Maryland and whose work often comments on social justice and race. Sherald’s work is included in public collections located in The United States Embassy Dakar in Senegal, The National Museum of African American History and Culture, The National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C., and FTI Technologies Inc. in Baltimore.
The Obamas have clearly chosen artists who they believe will totally capture their class, creativity and commitment to the culture. Check out the work of Wiley and Sherald below: