President Barack Obama and former First Lady Michael Obama made personal and world history as their official portraits were revealed and are being displayed at the Smithsonian Institution at Washington D.C. Michelle Obama quoted that she knew that she was the “first one in her family to have a portrait done.” She was also thinking about future generations and the impact Sherald’s work will have on “girls and girls of color.” As his wife’s portrait was revealed, President Obama was stunned at the beauty of it. He said “Amy, I want to thank you for so spectacularly capturing the grace and beauty and intelligence and charm and hotness of the woman I love.”
They both chose the artist they thought would represent their spirit and performance. Michelle Obama chose Amy Sherald, an African-American artist known for her unique style, and whose portraits also tend to underscore themes of social justice. President Obama chose Kehinde Wiley, known for his highly naturalistic paintings of African-Americans in heroic poses. Wiley is the first African-American artist to execute an official presidential portrait for the National Portrait Gallery. On choosing Wiley as his artist, Obama said, “What I was always struck by when I saw his portraits was the degree to which they challenged our ideas of power and privilege.”
We have seen history being made. We often think that history is something old that happened years ago, not events that happen during our lifetimes. But we make history every day. We contemplate history with every move our leaders make. You make your personal history with every decision you make. Now the new event that goes down in history is about a new style of painting in a new era of Presidential portraits.