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The Obamas’ Official Portraits Unveiled At The Smithsonian And I Don’t Know How I Feel

Former President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama pose next to their official portrait at the National Portrait Gallery on Monday, February 12, 2018 in Washington, D.C. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS)

When I awoke yesterday morning, I was excited to see the official portraits of Barack and Michelle Obama. Here’s my reaction.

Everybody’s a farking critic, even me, and I can’t draw a straight line.

You know whose opinion really matters, though? Our amazing former president and his beautiful wife.

Here’s a video of the Obamas’ reaction to their portraits.

As I promised, I immediately went to read up on the symbolism in the portraits. Here’s what I found.


The symbolism behind Pres. Obama’s portrait:

The flowers seen in the background of the former president’s portrait do have symbolic meanings. The chrysanthemums are the official flower of Chicago, where he began his political career. His childhood home of Hawaii is represented through jasmine, and African blue lilies serve as a nod to his late Kenyan-born father, Barack Obama, Sr.

Yeah. I like that. A LOT.

The symbolism behind Michelle Obama’s portrait:

Baltimore-based artist Sherald’s interpretation of the ex-executive mansion resident features gray skin tones, a hallmark of the majority of her paintings. Michelle Obama, 54, is seen wearing a dress by fashion designer Michelle Smith’s label, Milly.

“What you represent to this country is an ideal: a human being with integrity, intellect, confidence, and compassion,” Sherald said of Michelle Obama. The artist said she aspired through her painting to show “a message of humanity.”

I like that, too. I especially like that the Obamas made sure that their portraits were done by artists of color. I’m excited to see the portraits in person on my next trip to D.C.

The unveiling.


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Written by Tiffany Willis Clark

Tiffany Willis Clark is a fifth-generation Texan, a proponent of voluntary simplicity, a single mom, and the founder and editor-in-chief of Liberal America. An unapologetic member of the Christian Left, she has spent most of her career actively working with “the least of these" -- disadvantaged and oppressed populations, the elderly, people living in poverty, at-risk youth, and unemployed people. She is a Certified Workforce Expert with the National Workforce Institute, a NAWDP Certified Workforce Development Professional, and a certified instructor for Franklin Covey's 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn. She also has a grossly neglected personal blog, a  Time Travel blog, a site dedicated to encouraging people to  read classic literature 15 minutes a day, and a literary quotes blog that is a labor of love. Find her somewhere and join the discussion.

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