March's Top 5:
1. Barack and Michelle Obama's official portraits, created by artists Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald, respectively, revealed at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery.
I love both of these paintings for so many reasons. When one compares the former president's portrait with all of the other presidential portraits from the past, Obama's possesses so much more vibrancy. The latent symbolism--the different flowers are references to Kenya, Hawaii, and Chicago--adds an interesting conceptual layer. I've also always loved the way Wiley toys with the viewer's sense of space by making some of the background elements overlap onto the figure, creating a unique dimensionality in a seemingly shallow spatial field.
I admire Michelle Obama's portrait for different reasons. The bold, graphic dress she is wearing is incredibly striking and jumps out at the viewer. This effect is further emphasized by the flat, cool blue background. Sherald paints all her subjects with a grayish skin tone, challenging the viewer's preconceived notions on race.