28 Days of Little Known Facts About (Black) American History | Kehinde Wiley & Amy Sherald(13)

We are pleased to spotlight Kehinde Wiley & Amy Sherald in day thirteen of our first annual 28 Days of Little Known Facts About (Black) American History

Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald — are the first black painters to receive a presidential portrait commission from the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery

Amy Sherald was born in 1973 in Columbus, Georgia. She is an American painter based in Baltimore, Maryland and best known for her portrait paintings that address social justice, stylized, archetypal portrayals of African Americans, as well as her choice of subjects, which are drawn from outside of the art historical narrative. Amy was commissioned to paint the official portrait of Michelle Obama for the National Portrait Gallery.

Kehinde Wiley was born in 1977 in south central Los Angeles to a Nigerian father and African-American mother, but didn’t grow up with his father at home. At the age of 20, however, he traveled to Nigeria to find him. Wiley is known for taking the saints, prophets and heroes of Old Master paintings and replacing them with black men and women dressed in hip-hop or African attire. Wiley painted Barack Obama sitting in a chair, elbows in his knees, leaning forward with an intense expression. The background, typical of a Wiley painting, is a riotous pattern of intense greens.

“What I choose to do is to take people who happen to look like me — black and brown people all over the world, increasingly — and to allow them to occupy that field of power,” Wiley told CNN.

The ability to be the first African-American painter to paint the first African-American president of the United States is absolutely overwhelming.


About The 28 Day Campaign

This informational campaign: 28 Days of Little Known Facts About Black American History will see 540Blog share little known facts about Black Americans throughout history every day throughout the month of February. Those that were groundbreaking and history making but do not necessarily get the media attention and coverage.

Source(s): AJC // NPR // National Portrait Gallery

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