Two-Year-Old Parker and Michelle Obama's Portrait
Didn’t a significant figure in Black history instruct Americans to judge each other on the “content of their character, not the color of our skin?” Shouldn’t character, rather than skin color, be the primary focus for everyone who lives in this country?
Unfortunately, that’s not the case.
Recently, Michelle Obama’s official portrait was unveiled, but rather than just thank artist Amy Sherald the former first lady couldn’t control the temptation to drag skin color into a historical event. After taking in the massive portrait of herself, Michelle had this to say about children who would eventually see her image:
I'm also thinking of all the young people...who will see an image of someone who looks like them hanging on the wall in this great American institution. I know the impact that will have on their lives, b/c I was one of those girls.
The premise of Michelle’s statement is that the former first lady spent her childhood wandering around Chicago museums looking for paintings depicting people who look like her but couldn’t find one.
And people believe that balderdash.
Based on her statement, either Michelle shunned museums as a child or thinks she’s the first black woman that black children find relatable
The truth is that throughout the history of art black and brown people have always been the depicted in paintings. In fact, Alessandro de' Medici, son of the most powerful and culturally-influential family in Florence, Italy, from the 15th to the mid 18th century, was the half son of a Moorish slave. Alessandro was about as white as Barack Obama is Irish.
Now, barely two weeks after Michelle’s oh-so-relatable reveal, Americans are supposed to believe that a museum-dweller spontaneously found 2-year-old child mesmerized by Michelle Obama’s gigantic likeness?
Well, that’s the story.
Apparently, Ben Hines from North Carolina said he was touring the Smithsonian looking for “patriots” with his wife when, quite by accident, he happened upon little Parker Curry glaring at the former first lady’s image.
Ben captured the candid photo and posted it on Facebook where it went viral. Hines told Buzzfeed
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.
The little girl Parker’s mother, Jessica Curry, said her daughter “just wanted to stare…She was fascinated.”
After Hines’ photo went viral, Amy Sherald, the creator of Michelle’s portrait chimed in on how touched she was by the photo that depicted a small child, the black first lady in the large white dress, and the hovering Black security guard.
Amy said the photo brought her back to her first field trip to a museum where she saw an image by white realist artist Bob Bartlett of a “black man standing in front of a house.”
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.
So, Amy Sherald doesn’t remember her childhood but does remember seeing a painting of a black man because that’s when she realized that Art History books excluded Black people?
Clearly Amy, along with Michelle, visited the wrong museums.
The buzz now is that Parker Curry staring at Michelle’s portrait proves that images are relevant and that 2-year-old minority children, barely out of diapers, notice when they’re not represented equally in art museums.
Back to Parker Curry at the Smithsonian. For starters, Michelle’s skin color in the Sherald painting is an odd death-pallor gray, not black or brown. Therefore, it’s highly unlikely a little girl thought Michelle looked like her. ‘
Moreover, how about we give the child credit for appreciating the colorful geometric shapes, which is what 2-years old do, or acknowledge that the mere size of the portrait stunned the kid. No, instead, the default reaction for some on the left is to focus on race immediately and to use a toddler’s response to prove something about lack of representation in the art world.
What’s worse is the contrived nature of a photo that uses an innocent child to give validation to Michelle’s bizarre “looks like them” statement on the day her Smithsonian portrait was unveiled at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.
The whole Parker in the Smithsonian photo seems manufactured. Instead of art, for art’s sake, or a little girl just looking at a painting, now museums, art history and, portraiture have become another pawn in a discussion about race that is tearing this nation apart.
Jeannie hosts a blog at www.jeannie-ology.com