BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The National Portrait Gallery has unveiled portraits of former President Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama, including one painted by a Baltimore-based artist.
Marylander Amy Sherald — the first-prize winner of the Portrait Gallery’s 2016 Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition — was chosen to paint Michelle Obama’s portrait. Barack Obama’s portrait was painted by Kehinde Wiley — a Brooklyn-based artist best known for his vibrant, large-scale paintings of African-Americans.
Both artists joined the Obama’s on stage for the great reveal.
Their presidential portraits will be the first-ever painted by African-American artists to enter the Portrait Gallery.
Sherald is a Maryland Institute College of Art teacher and graduate. Her legacy now extends far beyond the Baltimore campus — and even her success as an artist. Her presidential portrait will now join the gallery’s 1,600 other presidential portraits.
“I’m also thinking about all of 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, of this great American institution,” Michelle Obama said.
A second and different set of portraits of the former first couple will eventually hang in the White House.
“I paint American people, and I tell American stories through the paintings I create. The act of Michelle Obama, being her authentic self became a profound statement that engaged all of us,” Sherald said.
The former president joked about Wiley’s challenge of capturing his features, but seemed quite pleased with his wife’s portrait.
“Amy, I want to thank you for so spectacularly capturing the grace and beauty and intelligence and charm and hotness of the woman that I love,” Barack Obama said.
Forty-five private donors contributed to commissioning the paintings, which will be available for public viewing starting Tuesday.