NIGERIAN COMMISSIONED BY OBAMA TO PAINT OFFICIAL PORTRAIT

According to the tradition started with George H. Bush, after every American President tenure is done, a portrait of him and the First Lady is commissioned by the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery. 90-year old Everett Raymond Kinsler has painted the last 8 presidents, but  the immediate past president Barack Obama broke with that norm by choosing Kehinde Wiley to paint his portraits. His wife Michelle Obama has also chosen a Baltimore-based artist, Amy Sherald for her own portrait.

Kehinde Wiley was born to a Nigerian father and an African-American mother, and grew up with his mother. At the age of 20 he came to Nigeria to get to know his father and reconnect with his roots. His art mixes classical European styles with street, neo-black styles. He has commissioned paintings of famous African-American like The Notorious BIG, Michael Jackson, and others.

Both choices of Kehinde and Sherald are causing quite an excited buzz in their novelty, and will prove to be interesting. They are both black artists making names for themselves in art circles around the world, while Sherald will be the first female artist to undertake such a venture. This choice is an empowering one for them and other artists like them.