Obamas' official portraits unveiled

Barack and Michelle Obama re-emerged on the public stage Monday in Washington, only this time for an event that has n...

Posted: Feb 12, 2018 6:13 PM
Updated: Feb 12, 2018 6:13 PM

Barack and Michelle Obama re-emerged on the public stage Monday in Washington, only this time for an event that has nothing to do with politics.

The former first couple's official portraits were unveiled at the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery, a rite of passage for most former presidents, all of whom have their portraits hanging in the museum.

These are perhaps the most anticipated presidential portrait unveilings to date, due in large part to the artists the Obamas selected. The former president chose Kehinde Wiley, a Yale University-trained painter famous for his depiction of African-Americans posed in the style of Old Master paintings, regal, formal and filled with pops of color.

"How about that? That's pretty sharp," the 44th president said as he took the podium. The portrait depicts him sitting against a backdrop of green foliage.

"I tried to negotiate less gray hair and Kehinde's artistic integrity would not allow (him) to do what I asked," Obama joked. "I tried to negotiate smaller ears. Struck out on that as well."

Michelle Obama said she "was a little overwhelmed, to say the least," after her portrait was unveiled.

Wiley is the first African-American artist to execute an official presidential portrait for the National Portrait Gallery.

The juxtaposition of contemporary urban culture with centuries-old postures and wallpaper-like backgrounds make for bold paintings, of which Obama's is Wiley's most famous to date.

Wiley apparently took thousands of photographs of Obama in order to create the portrait, a process different than the typical "sittings" required for most portraits.

"What I was always struck by when I saw his portraits was the degree to which they challenged our ideas of power and privilege," Obama said.

For her painting, Michelle Obama chose Baltimore-based artist Amy Sherald. Sherald is another African-American artist known for her unique style, and her portraits also tend to underscore themes of social justice. She often paints black skin tones in gray as a way to take away the assigned "color" of her subjects. Sherald's work is less about realism in composition and more about shape and color; like Wiley, the choice of Sherald ushers in a new era of presidential portrait.

"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," President Obama said.

The former first lady said she was thinking about the impact Sherald's work will have on "girls and girls of color."

"They will see an image of someone who looks like them hanging on the walls of this great American institution ... And I know the kind of impact that will have on their lives because I was one of those girls," she said.

The Obamas looked at the portfolios of more than two dozen artists before deciding on Wiley and Sherald. Obama's portrait will hang in the hall of presidents and the former first lady's will be placed in another gallery. Both will be open to public viewing on Tuesday.

Huntsville
Scattered Clouds
60° wxIcon
Hi: 76° Lo: 52°
Feels Like: 60°
Florence
Clear
60° wxIcon
Hi: 65° Lo: 53°
Feels Like: 60°
Fayetteville
Scattered Clouds
59° wxIcon
Hi: 74° Lo: 50°
Feels Like: 59°
Decatur
Clear
58° wxIcon
Hi: 74° Lo: 51°
Feels Like: 58°
Scottsboro
Overcast
61° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 54°
Feels Like: 61°
WAAY Radar
WAAY WAAY-TV Cam
WAAY Temperatures

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 136055

Reported Deaths: 2364
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson19752350
Mobile13449292
Montgomery8852184
Tuscaloosa8654118
Madison792778
Shelby601349
Lee592760
Baldwin552650
Marshall396143
Calhoun353444
Etowah352145
Morgan331428
Houston292021
Elmore267348
DeKalb243221
St. Clair233036
Walker231984
Talladega217129
Limestone211920
Cullman190720
Dallas179126
Franklin178129
Autauga177325
Russell17633
Lauderdale172333
Colbert166626
Blount161715
Escambia161124
Chilton158830
Jackson158111
Covington140327
Dale139244
Coffee13596
Pike120510
Chambers116842
Tallapoosa116485
Clarke110016
Marion96829
Butler91339
Barbour8857
Winston74512
Marengo72420
Pickens66614
Bibb65610
Lowndes65427
Randolph65413
Hale64428
Geneva6344
Lawrence62123
Cherokee61213
Bullock60614
Monroe5908
Clay5878
Washington55913
Perry5416
Crenshaw54032
Conecuh53611
Wilcox53211
Henry5075
Macon48318
Fayette4628
Sumter43819
Cleburne3825
Lamar3702
Choctaw35112
Greene30315
Coosa1723
Out of AL00
Unassigned00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 192995

Reported Deaths: 2377
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Shelby30953459
Davidson26630306
Hamilton951995
Knox949779
Rutherford936189
Williamson531036
Sumner486598
Wilson351945
Putnam334940
Montgomery311144
Unassigned30425
Out of TN298627
Bradley296217
Madison292164
Sevier263815
Blount253524
Maury240924
Washington232836
Robertson222535
Sullivan219733
Hamblen193926
Tipton183219
Gibson170423
Trousdale16667
Hardeman158226
Wayne14995
Dyer138714
Bedford136417
Dickson127415
Coffee125413
Cumberland121718
Weakley120519
Fayette120419
Anderson120013
Obion119110
Henderson118924
Loudon11846
Carter117728
Greene116144
McMinn114625
Jefferson113014
Warren10757
Lawrence106713
Macon106721
Monroe105218
Hardin104716
Lauderdale99416
Haywood99221
Franklin9899
Lake9252
Roane9055
Carroll89920
McNairy89618
Bledsoe8624
White8479
Rhea84412
Hawkins82218
Cheatham81510
Marshall7785
Overton7586
Cocke7549
Smith73111
Johnson7262
Chester64310
Giles63117
Henry6289
Lincoln6241
Hickman5938
DeKalb57014
Crockett54219
Marion5338
Decatur5307
Fentress5263
Campbell4544
Claiborne4425
Polk39910
Grainger3863
Union3642
Benton3379
Jackson3315
Morgan3203
Grundy3095
Cannon2920
Unicoi2891
Humphreys2583
Sequatchie2381
Clay2335
Meigs2283
Houston2243
Scott2172
Stewart2142
Lewis2041
Moore1791
Van Buren1660
Perry1530
Pickett1232
Hancock1083

Community Events