Nigerian artist -Kehinde Wiley, who was selected by former President Barack Obama to paint his portrait, was honoured with the W.E.B. Du Bois Medal by Harvard University last Thursday. The W.E.B. Du Bois Medal is Harvard’s highest honour in the field of African and African-American studies.
Same award was conferred on Muhammad Ali (2015) and Maya Angelou (2014), as well as Florence Ladd, Kenneth Chenault, Shirley Ann Jackson, Pamela Joyner, Bryan Stevenson, Dave Chappelle, and Colin Kaepernick, their good works in their various careers
Harvard University honours a Nigerian artist who painted Obama
Two months after artist Kehinde Wiley’s official portraits of former U.S. President and first lady – Barack and Michelle Obama debuted at the Smithsonian Institute’s National Portrait Gallery in Washington D.C., Kehinde Wiley earned a spot as one of Time’s Most Influential People of 2018.
Wiley told Time in a recent interview;
“Historically, portraiture has always been about saying yes to things that we want to celebrate, but I think also the commissioned portrait has often times been about a society saying, ‘Who are the people we collectively want to honor?’ and particularly with the presidential portrait, this is the highest aspect of that tradition”. “It’s been — I can’t tell you — an extraordinary honor to be able to participate in that.”
The Obamas made history not only as the country’s first African-American presidential couple featured in the gallery but also for selecting the first African-American painters to receive a presidential portrait commission from the muse.