One of the privileges of being President and First Lady of the United States is that, after you leave office, a famous artist paints your portrait. In the case of our #ForeverPOTUS and #ForeverFLOTUS Barack and Michelle Obama, the couple chose a pair of groundbreaking Black painters with a bent toward social justice and hip hop to do the honors. This may be the most lit artwork to hang in the Smithsonian since, well, ever.
The chosen ones are artists Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald. Wiley will be painting Barack's portrait while Sherald will paint Michelle. According to Complex, Wiley is a New York-based and Los Angeles-born portrait painter known for grandiose, Renaissance-inspired portraits of Black people against heroic and colorful backdrops. He often looks to hip-hop for inspiration and has created works that feature the likes of Ice T, LL Cool J, Swizz Beatz, Spike Lee, and others.
Sherald, meanwhile, is an American painter based in Baltimore, Maryland whose work often touches on issues of social justice and race. Born in Columbus, Gerogia, Sherald's work is included in public collections located in The United States Embassy Dakar in Senegal, The National Museum of African American History and Culture, The National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C., and FTI Technologies Inc. in Baltimore.
Clearly, the Obamas are sending a message with their choices: they want to be depicted in all their unapologetically Black glory.
Check out some works by Wiley and Sherald below — we can't wait to see what the finished works of the Obamas look like!