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The Obamas in Portraiture

Barack Obama by Kehinde Wiley 2018

Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama by Amy Sherald 2018

Today, the Obamas' official portraits for the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery were unveiled.

Immediately, I recognized Barack and liked what I saw.

I looked at Michelle's and to be absolutely honest wasn't quite sure I was looking at Michelle. I suspect my taste in portraiture leans toward damn near exact replicas of the subject.

The artists commissioned to paint the Obamas are the first black artists to ever be granted such a privilege. Ever.

Barack's artist is Los Angeles native Kehinde Wiley.

Michelle's artist is Columbus, GA born Amy Sherald.

On Facebook, I praised Kehinde's portrait and passive-aggressively poo-pooed Amy's.

Since I didn't think her portrait looked enough like Michelle, I summarily dismissed it.

And that was immature of me to do since I had no idea what her artistry is about. My response to it was visceral. No thought at all.

After reading this New York Times profile of Amy, I realized I needed to take a closer look at her portrait of Michelle. And when I did, I saw something different.

I saw Michelle.

No, not an exact replica, but I saw Michelle.

The NY Times article also compelled me to see that Amy is an INSPIRATION. She paints because she believes it's her reason for being alive. And because she doesn't think she knows how to do anything else. Haaa! Doesn't that sound familiar?

I applaud Kehinde and Amy for being the first artists who look like them to be invited to share their immense talent on such a national scale.

It never ceases to amaze me the lofty heights one can reach with a lot of discipline mixed with a little blood, sweat and tears.

Climb on!

Climb on!

This post first appeared on I Am CAM Jr!, please read the originial post: here

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The Obamas in Portraiture


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