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.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 70930

Reported Deaths: 2043
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds5803124
DeSoto379632
Harrison266336
Madison250372
Jackson241147
Rankin233738
Jones194562
Forrest186557
Washington173945
Lee161042
Lauderdale145894
Neshoba130994
Lamar124616
Bolivar116737
Warren115136
Oktibbeha114539
Lowndes111440
Panola109618
Sunflower108628
Lafayette102520
Scott101720
Copiah97329
Leflore96368
Pike96037
Holmes92849
Yazoo87413
Pontotoc8669
Grenada86126
Lincoln84943
Monroe83955
Simpson82231
Leake80427
Coahoma79813
Wayne79021
Tate75330
Marshall74010
Union73217
Marion69221
Adams64726
Covington64115
Winston63716
George6059
Pearl River57140
Newton56711
Tallahatchie55011
Attala53925
Walthall51922
Chickasaw49119
Noxubee46612
Prentiss46210
Tishomingo4539
Alcorn4455
Calhoun4289
Smith41513
Hancock41415
Jasper4129
Tippah41114
Claiborne41014
Clay40614
Itawamba40410
Tunica3677
Clarke35528
Montgomery3467
Lawrence3328
Yalobusha31810
Humphreys30312
Quitman2751
Carroll26311
Greene26213
Webster25013
Perry2498
Jefferson Davis2436
Amite2426
Kemper24114
Wilkinson22714
Stone2256
Sharkey2097
Jefferson1977
Benton1571
Choctaw1384
Franklin1372
Issaquena272
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 102196

Reported Deaths: 1825
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson13578262
Mobile10747221
Montgomery6999153
Madison555035
Tuscaloosa435080
Unassigned406169
Baldwin374429
Shelby338137
Marshall320738
Lee273647
Morgan244320
Etowah220934
DeKalb186614
Calhoun185319
Elmore178339
Walker156265
Houston145913
Limestone139313
Russell13912
St. Clair138120
Dallas134825
Franklin131022
Cullman124612
Colbert123218
Lauderdale121320
Autauga119622
Escambia109417
Talladega108714
Jackson10794
Tallapoosa87879
Dale85629
Chambers84838
Blount8355
Chilton8309
Clarke82710
Coffee7816
Butler77536
Covington75521
Pike7167
Marion59226
Barbour5866
Lowndes57524
Marengo57217
Bullock49311
Hale48726
Bibb4575
Winston45611
Washington45313
Perry4484
Wilcox44510
Monroe4256
Pickens41310
Randolph40411
Conecuh39710
Sumter37019
Lawrence3603
Macon34414
Crenshaw3338
Choctaw29012
Cherokee2888
Clay2785
Geneva2692
Henry2683
Greene25511
Lamar2372
Fayette2275
Cleburne1301
Coosa1063
Out of AL00
Tupelo
Few Clouds
83° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 73°
Feels Like: 88°
Columbus
Overcast
84° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 72°
Feels Like: 98°
Oxford
Clear
84° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 91°
Starkville
Scattered Clouds
82° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 87°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather