The National Portrait Gallery unveiled the official portraits of Barack and Michelle Obama.
In her speech Michelle Obama said, “I’m also thinking about all of the young people, particularly boys and girls of color, who, in years ahead, will come to this place and they will look up and they will see an image of someone who looks like them hanging on the wall of this great American institution.”
The modernist portrait of the first lady was brought to life by artist Amy Sherald.
“I know the kind of impact that will have on their lives because I was one of those girls and, when I think about those future generations and generations past, I think, again, wow. Wow, what an incredible journey we are on together in this country. We have come so far,” added Michelle.
This photo of the now famous little girl who marvelled at Michelle’s portrait has gone viral. The picture was taken by Ben Hines, a 37-year-old North Carolina resident who was visiting DC to see his mom.
Donna Hines & I made a pilgrimage today and we were delighted to wait in line behind this fellow art lover & hopeful patriot.
A source was told by Ben that the little girl and her family was standing in front of them in the line so excited and full of energy. When their time to view the portrait arrived, her mom wanted to turn her around to get a picture of her but the little girl couldn’t help but keep staring at the painting.
“It was so touching and uplifting for me to see this beautiful child looking at a beautiful portrait of a powerful woman. I was so delighted to have been in the right place at the right time”, said Ben.
“I think we were all just smiling, and her joy and her awe was infectious,” he said.
Donna said time seemed to stop as everyone around the little girl watched the moment. She added, “It’s hard to describe in words. The girl had such wonder on her face and her entire body just stopped as she looked at her, and she had this wonder that was silent and yet seemed to be saying something very big at the same time.”
Ben’s picture became viral on the Internet it has been shared hundreds of times on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
We are pleased to introduce you to Parker Curry, a sweet 2-year-old girl.
Parker’s mom, Jessica, said she took her and her sister, Ava, to the gallery to take a look at the former president’s and first lady’s portraits.
Jessica agreed with Ben’s story: “I was trying to get her to turn around so I could take a picture, but she wouldn’t cooperate. She just wanted to stare at it. She was fascinated.”
“As a little person looking at a portrait that large, I can imagine it’s fascinating,” she said. “She had a little moment.”
Parker’s mom also said she knows that Michelle Obama is a former first lady who used to live in the White House. When Jessica saw the response to the images from people around the world she expressed, “I didn’t realize it would be so moving to so many people”.
“In the world we live in today, I’m just trying to raise a little girl who has opportunities to see women who look like her doing great things,” Jessica said.
Here are some emotional reactions of people worldwide.
Talk about a picture worth a thousand words … wow
— Michael Horner (@Miichaelghorner) March 2, 2018
— Erin DeCaprio (@ErinDeCaprio) March 2, 2018
This is so beautiful. pic.twitter.com/Ia0H6rNCpK
— Chrissa Hardy 🧟♀️ (@chrissahardy) March 2, 2018
This picture is so important. It's one thing to be told you're capable of great things. It's another to view evidence that you are.
— Särah Nour (@SaCha1689) March 2, 2018
Representation matters pic.twitter.com/ge0csdZrSW
— ✨Beyoncé 💛☭✨ (@UniversalyBlack) March 2, 2018
Ane Sherald, the portrait artist, also shared Jessica’s photo of Parker on her Instagram account using the hashtag #representationmatters.
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
Ben Hines told a source that he wasn’t sure whether Sherald’s portrait “Captured the beauty of the first lady that I had seen and come to admire,” but he said that seeing the painting in person was a revelation.
He said, “There’s a palpable sense with both of the Obama portraits of excitement and reverence among the people standing to view them, and I think that’s infectious. The little girl reflected that.”
“The picture I posted shows awe and wonder, but there’s also just real joy among those viewing it.” Donna said it was “a gift” to experience the moment.
“To be able to see with my son that little girl look at the first African-American first lady—there really just aren’t words for that.”
Parker touched so many hearts that former first lady Michelle Obama decided she needed to meet her personally. They had a dance party and more photos to share.
Parker, I’m so glad I had the chance to meet you today (and for the dance party)! Keep on dreaming big for yourself…and maybe one day I’ll proudly look up at a portrait of you! pic.twitter.com/faUVTsYWun
— Michelle Obama (@MichelleObama) March 6, 2018