Young Girl Staring Up At Michelle Obama’s New Portrait With Astonishment Is Going Viral

As the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery presented new portraits of Barack and Michelle Obama last month, some rushed to get rid of the former first lady’s portrait.

But regardless of what others had to say, Obama revealed the reason why the painting meant so much to her.

“I am a little overwhelmed, to say the least,” Michelle Obama saidafter the portrait was revealed. “As you may have guessed, I don’t think there is anybody in my family who has ever had a portrait done, let alone a portrait that will be hanging in the National Gallery — at least as far as I know, Mom.”

She continued: “I’m also thinking of all the young people, particularly girls and girls of color, who … will see an image of someone who looks like them hanging on the wall of this great American institution. I know the kind of impact that will have on their lives, because I was one of those girls.”

Less than a month after Obama’s portrait was displayed in the museum, a new viral photo draw attention to just what the former first lady was talking about. A picture of a young black girl looking at the portrait of Michelle Obama has got 10,500 more shares on Facebook in just one day.

“We were delighted to wait in line behind this fellow art lover & hopeful patriot,” wrote Ben Hines, the man who posted the photo on Facebook:

Amy Sherald, the painter of the portrait, posted a separate picture of the young girl on Instagram— and a powerful message:

Feeling all the feels. 😭 When I look at this picture I think back to my first field trip in elementary school to a museum. I had only seen paintings in encyclopedias up to that point in my life. There was a show up of work by painter @thebobartlett whose work still inspires me to this day. There was a painting of a black man standing in front of a house. I don’t remember a lot about my childhood, but I do have a few emotional memories etched into my mind forever and seeing that painting of a man that looked like he could be my father stopped me dead in my tracks. This was my first time seeing real paintings that weren’t in a book and also weren’t painted in another century. I didn’t realize that none of them had me in them until I saw that painting of Bo’s. I knew I wanted to be an artist already, but seeing that painting made me realize that I could. What dreams may come? #representationmatters

A post shared by Amy Sherald (@asherald) on

“When I look at this picture I think back to my first field trip in elementary school to a museum,” Sherald wrote. “I had only seen paintings in encyclopedias up to that point in my life. There was a show up of work by painter [Bo Bartlett] whose work still inspires me to this day.”

Sherald posted a painting by Bo Bartlett as well, one that she claims was of a great help her realize the lack of representation for black men and women in paintings — a void in the art world that Sherald’s own work helps to fill.

“This was my first time seeing real paintings that weren’t in a book and also weren’t painted in another century. I didn’t realize that none of them had me in them until I saw that painting of Bo’s,” she added.

“I knew I wanted to be an artist already, but seeing that painting made me realize that I could,” she concluded. “What dreams may come?”

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