*Baltimore painter Amy Sherald and Kehinde Wiley have been commissioned to paint former President Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama’s official portraits for the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC
Sherald garnered national attention after winning a portrait competition at the National Portrait Gallery. As noted by Baltimore Magazine, her painting “Miss Everything (Unsuppressed Deliverance) won the 2016 Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition, which brought with it a $25,000 prize. That painting is currently touring the country as part of an exhibition of the competition’s top entries. Sherald was the first woman to have ever won the prize.”
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“Both [painters] have achieved enormous success as artists, but even more, they make art that reflects the power and potential of portraiture in the 21st century,” said Kim Sajet, director of the National Portrait Gallery, in a statement.
“40-year-old Wiley is known for his Baroque-style portraits that depict young black men as European royalty.”
“Sherald, 44, specializes in portraits of black women.” She has works at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, and The National Museum of Women in the Arts.
In a 2016 story that appeared in Baltimore, Sherald discussed the evolution of her style.
“I’d go through all these art books and look at technique, but not necessarily see my story represented,” she said. Her dream, she said, was for people “to look at a black child and see themselves. I want my paintings to take you to a different space in reality, and allow you to recognize yourself,” she says. “That’s the magic that I want all of my paintings to have.”
Amy Sherald and Kehinde Wiley will be the first black artists to officially paint a presidential couple.