April 14, 2022, 2:00 PM - 4:00 PM

The Obama Portraits: Portraits of Black Presidents

Jane Addams Hull-House Museum
800 S. Halsted Street, Chicago, IL 60607

Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama by Amy Sherald (born 1973), 2018; Oil on linen.

To register

In summer 2021, the Art Institute of Chicago was the first stop on a five-city tour of the official portraits of long-time Chicagoans, President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama. The two portraits are groundbreaking, not only because they depict the nation’s first Black President and Black First Lady, but also because they represent the first time Black artists were commissioned by the National Portrait Gallery to produce presidential paintings. It is not the first time, however, that Black artists have portrayed the image of Black power in the nation’s highest office. Ross Stanton Jordan, Interim Director and Curatorial Manager at the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum, explores the iconic Obama Portraits as well as other images of Black presidents in popular culture, such as television, movies, music, and more.

Presented by Red Line Service, an organization that creates cultural programming by and for Chicagoans with a lived experience of homelessness, this program is part of a series of talks by Chicago-based art historians that examines a variety of creative practices and settings where art is produced, questions ways in which art history is written, and introduces new audiences to art history. Programs focus on often overlooked American art, design, and cultural artifacts (past and present) with a specific focus on Chicago. Each program is free, open to the public, and includes a meal, bringing together audiences who don’t typically interact to develop community together through learning.

This talk is followed on April 22, 2022, 12-2 p.m. by a writing workshop for attendees who wish to explore writing their own art histories at Harold Washington Library, 8th Floor, Meeting Room. For more information and to RSVP, please email contact@redlineservice.org.

Image credit: Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama by Amy Sherald (born 1973); 2018, Oil on linen. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Kate Capshaw and Steven Spielberg; Judith Kern and Kent Whealy; Tommie L. Pegues and Donald A. Capoccia; Clarence, DeLoise, and Brenda Gaines; Jonathan and Nancy Lee Kemper; The Stoneridge Fund of Amy and Marc Meadows; Robert E. Meyerhoff and Rheda Becker; Catherine and Michael Podell; Mark and Cindy Aron; Lyndon J. Barrois and Janine Sherman Barrois; The Honorable John and Louise Bryson; Paul and Rose Carter; Bob and Jane Clark; Lisa R. Davis; Shirley Ross Davis and Family; Alan and Lois Fern; Conrad and Constance Hipkins; Sharon and John Hoffman; Audrey M. Irmas; John Legend and Chrissy Teigen; Eileen Harris Norton; Helen Hilton Raiser; Philip and Elizabeth Ryan; Roselyne Chroman Swig; Josef Vascovitz and Lisa Goodman; Eileen Baird; Dennis and Joyce Black Family Charitable Foundation; Shelley Brazier; Aryn Drake-Lee; Andy and Teri Goodman; Randi Charno Levine and Jeffrey E. Levine; Fred M. Levin and Nancy Livingston, The Shenson Foundation; Monique Meloche Gallery, Chicago; Arthur Lewis and Hau Nguyen; Sara and John Schram; Alyssa Taubman and Robert Rothman