Baltimore painter, Amy Sherald beautifully captured the inherent beauty of our former First Lady, Michelle Obama, in an exquisite portrait on display at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.
Sherald received much praise for her stunning rendition of Obama, but a photo that captured the reaction of a little girl staring in awe over the painting was perhaps the best accolade of them all.
Ben Hines, a 37-year-old from North Carolina, was behind a young girl named Parker while in line to see the portrait on Thursday. She was so captivated, her mother couldn't even distract her from posing for a picture in front of the painting.
Hines shared his experience witnessing heart-warming moment with 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 photo was posted on Facebook, where it went viral. "I think we were all just smiling, and her joy and her awe was infectious," said Hines.
@newbarnraising @NPG @MichelleObama The most wonderful thing Ive seen all day.— Ian Anstice (@Ian Anstice) 1520116282.0
Donna said the young girl was so enthralled, it was hard to convey the moment properly.
It's hard to describe in words. She had such wonder on her face and her entire body just stopped as she looked at her, and she had this wonder that was silent and yet seemed to be saying something very big at the same time.
These pictures are so moving https://t.co/AGBniGNQ1K— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@Yashar Ali 🐘) 1520014828.0
Jessica is 2-year-old Parker's mother. She took her and her 1-year-old sister to the gallery to look at the Obama portraits and also recalled the moment.
I was trying to get her to turn around so I could take a picture, but she wouldn't cooperate. She just wanted to stare at it. She was fascinated.
Jessica said her little Parker "had a moment."
In the world we live in today, I'm just trying to raise a little girl who has opportunities to see women who look like her doing great things.
The viral post eventually caught the attention of the artist, who posted on her Instagram page that she was "Feeling all the feels."
Sherald was reminded of the time she saw a painting in person for the first time by Bo Bartlett. It was a portrait of a black man she said "looked like he could be my father" and she was fascinated by it as much as Parker seemed to be mesmerized by the Michelle Obama portrait.
"I knew I wanted to be an artist already, but seeing that painting made me realize that I could," said Sherald. "What dreams may come?"
We're wondering the same thing about the opportunities in Parker's future.
Demand for Sherald's work has skyrocketed since being commissioned to paint Michelle Obama in October.
An article in Artsey talked about how the 44-year-old artist may not be able to meet the exceeding demands of buyers.
Sadly, for at least some of those would-be buyers, the list of people who want a Sherald painting now surpasses the artist's expected lifetime output given the pace at which she produces. Sherald's output is mostly due to her difficulty finding the right subjects for the portraits, Meloche said, and also to her health. Sherald lives with a replacement heart after getting a transplant in 2012.
Parker captured Twitter's heart.
@yashar oh man. that made me teary.— Monjula Ray 🌊 (@Monjula Ray 🌊) 1520014882.0
@BlueHenArt ❤️ She’s quite a role model isn’t she? For any little girl - but this is powerful. Thanks for sharing it.— Lisa Pilkington (@Lisa Pilkington) 1520052658.0
@lapilkington She is!!!...the entire Obama family are a national treasure. You can just imagine what that beautiful… https://t.co/47Nu4nGWH9— Just Mary (@Just Mary) 1520052941.0
@JennyWilsonUT This photo is amazing. This young girl’s future will be forever influenced by and because of the bea… https://t.co/BCvMVvd3yG— MelissaBadberg (@MelissaBadberg) 1520039062.0