A little girl went viral last week after a man captured a photo of her standing entranced, mouth agape, in front of the recently unveiled Michelle Obama’s portrait by Baltimore artist Amy Sherald.
Hines said he was moved by the enthusiasm of the little girl in the photo, whom Buzzfeed Newsidentified as 2-year-old Parker Curry.
“I was delighted to be there to witness that moment, and I’m just glad so many people want to share in the accomplishments of women like Michelle Obama and Amy Sherald and the wonder and awe that shows clearly on Parker’s face in the photo,” Hines said in an interview with The Baltimore Sun Monday.
Sherald took to her Instagram to emphasize, she, too, was “feeling all the feels.” She noted that the photo reminded her of the first time she went to a museum in elementary school and saw a painting by artist Bo Bartlett, which featured 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,” Sherald said. “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. I knew I wanted to be an artist already, but seeing that painting made me realize that I could. What dreams may come?” Sherald wrote, followed by the hashtag “#representationmatters.”
Parker’s mother, Jessica Curry, who took her and her 1-year-old sister Ava to see the Obama portraits last week, told Buzzfeed that she thought she wasn’t getting a good photo of Parker because she wouldn’t turn around to face the camera.
Representation is also a concept that Michelle Obama mentioned at the unveiling of her portrait in February. She explained that she felt an instant “sista-girl” connection with Sherald, who typically depicts African-American subjects with skin on a grayscale that pop against colorful backgrounds and clothing.
Obama also emphasized how honored she was that girls of color would be able to see an “image of someone who looks like them hanging on the wall of this great American institution.”
“I know the kind of impact that will have on their lives, because I was one of those girls,” she said.