Hear The Stories Behind The Obamas’ Beautiful Presidential Portraits
For whatever criticisms people throw their way, only the most hopelessly lost can’t admit that Barack and Michelle Obama are a warm, human and genuinely classy couple — and today they proved that tenfold with the unveiling of their official presidential portraits which are — uniquely for this office — genuine works of art.
Obama’s portrait shows him sitting in a chair amongst beautiful green shrubbery, while Michelle Obama’s is a downright abstract rendition of the first lady with minimal grayscale against a sky blue background. The two portraits were painted by the first two African Americans to be able to paint the portrait of the president and the first lady — with Kehinde Wiley painting Obama and Amy Sherald painting Michelle Obama.
While Wiley’s painting may seem like it prizes class and beauty above anything else, the background is in fact infused with a lot of meaning. The blue lilies, jasmine flowers, and chrysanthemums the varying elements of Barack Obama’s past. The blue lilies represent Kenya— the birthplace of Obama’s father. The jasmine flowers represent Hawaii — where he was born, and the chrysanthemums represent Chicago, the city Obama considers his home. The ivy tying it altogether represents these elements brought together to create a unique human being.
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