Just two months after artist Kehinde Wiley's official portraits of former U.S. President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama's debuted at the Smithsonian Institute's National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., Wiley has earned a spot as one of Time's Most Influential People of 2018.
"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," Wiley told Time in a recent interview. "It's been — I can't tell you — an extraordinary honor to be able to participate in that."
This year, 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 museum.