After being shared on Facebook, a powerful picture of a little black girl staring in awe at First Lady Michelle Obama’s official White House portrait in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington D.C. is going viral. The image shows a young child reacting not only to a piece of art but to the celebration of someone who looks like she might look as an adult. It is, in a sense, a photograph of possibilities.
“It was so touching and uplifting for me to see this beautiful child looking at a beautiful portrait of a powerful woman,” Ben Hines, the man who snapped the picture, told BuzzFeed. “I was so delighted to have been in the right place at the right time.”
The girls in the photograph is Parker Curry, who, according to her mother, was too transfixed by the painting to turn and face the camera. The picture of two-year-old Parker, seen by millions, even made it back to the portraitist.
“When I look at this picture I think back to my first field trip in elementary school to a museum,” wrote Sherald in an Instagram post. “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.”
The portraits of the Obamas have been praised for challenging expectations. Instead of using a static office or landscape background, the stoic portrait of the president is juxtaposed against a thick wall of greenery. The contradiction housed within the portrait of Michelle Obama is just as striking. She is pictured almost as a queen, but almsot entirely without the trappings (it’s a nice dress).
“I knew I wanted to be an artist already, but seeing that painting made me realize that I could,” Sherald wrote on Instagram. “What dreams may come?”
Donna Hines & I made a pilgrimage today and we were delighted to wait in line behind this fellow art lover & hopeful patriot.