Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Portraits at Augustana: Who's Here? Who's Missing?

From ARHI 270, this gallery display is meant to add diversity of representation to the current display on the third floor of Tredway Library. Submissions are welcome.

Portraits Gallery

Portrait of Michelle Obama by Amy Sherald, 2018.

"Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama" by Amy Sherald, 2018

The first African-American presidential couple chose African-American artists Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald to paint their official presidential portraits for the National Portrait Gallery. Sherald portrays former First Lady Michelle Obama in a manner typical of her portraiture: with gray-toned skin (a way to move beyond seeing race as color), a direct stare at the viewer, and the body reduced to a bold geometry set against a solid, brightly-colored background. Obama projects a cool, elegant confidence in what is arguably the most famous portrait of a First Lady to date. Artist’s website: http://www.amysherald.com/ National Portrait Gallery object page: https://npg.si.edu/object/npg_NPG.2018.15

Portrait of Trayvon Martin by Deborah Roberts 2022

"One of Many" Portrait of Trayvon Martin by Deborah Roberts, 2022

Deborah Roberts’s portrait of Trayvon Martin, titled One of Many, graces the cover of the February 2022 issue of New York Magazine, a special issue dedicated to the first decade of the Black Lives Matter movement, catalyzed by Martin’s murder in 2012. Roberts is a mixed-media artist whose recent work has featured young Black children, especially Black boys, who are often perceived as criminals and sometimes killed as a result. Roberts uses found and manipulated images to create her portraits that speak to the imagined, nuanced, and often fragmented identities Black children in America must lead. Artist’s website: http://www.deborahrobertsart.com/ New York Magazine special issue: https://nymag.com/article/black-lives-matter-2022.html

Self-portrait of Kehinde Wiley as Napoleon, 2005

"Napoleon Leading the Army over the Alps" Self-Portait by Kehinde Wiley, 2005

Kehinde Wiley is known for recreating “Old Master” portraits with black and brown men that he recruits from the urban environment. He retains the realism, luxury, and glory often associated with these older portraits for his new sitters to impart the similar principles of heroism and grandeur, while also disrupting long-established ideals of masculinity, power, and privilege. In this portrait, Wiley draws on Jacques-Louis David’s original portrait of Napoleon on horseback from 1803. Wiley’s portrait features a Black man with tattoos and wearing contemporary street attire. The common African-American surname WILLIAMS appears on the rocks along with those of well-known names of rulers in Western history. Tiny representations of sperm fill the sumptuous textile background seemingly to mock the often hyper-masculine nature of portraits of leaders.

Artist’s website: https://kehindewiley.com/
See also: https://smarthistory.org/kehinde-wiley-napoleon-leading-the-army-over-the-alps-2/

Johnny Bandura - Portraits of the 215 Children from the Kamloops Residential School, 2021

Johnny Bandura - Portraits of the 215 Children from the Kamloops Residential School, 2021

fter first learning about the mass graves holding the remains of 215 indigenous children at the Kamloops Residential School, self-taught artist from the Qayqayt First Nation in British Columbia Johnny Bandura began making portraits of “what these children could have become.” These comic-inspired portraits, visually arresting with the wide-eye stares and bold yellow, green, red, and black and white, depict a variety of future possibilities for these children: hunter, medicine woman, judge, nurse, hockey player, to name a few. Initially conceived as individual portraits, the paintings are now displayed together as a mural to communicate the larger tragedy of what happened at Kamloops. These portraits, derived from Bandura’s imagination rather than an encounter with an individual, are not likenesses in the traditional sense, but still serve portraiture’s traditional role of commemoration–in this case, lives lost too soon.

Wendy Red Star Apsáalooke Feminist #2, 2016

Wendy Red Star Apsáalooke Feminist #2, 2016

The art of Wendy Red Star engages with past representations and perceptions of Native Americans through a variety of media. This photographic self portrait series she did with her daughter deals with the passage of knowledge and cultural identity through the generations. Red Star and Beatrice wear traditional apsáalooke elk–tooth dress. By depicting herself and her daughter together, boldly engaging with the viewer, in strikingly vivid colors, Red Star challenges the traditional representations of Native American women usually shown passive, alone or with a man, and in sepia tones that evoke a sense of a remote past (see the Edward Curtis photos in this exhibit.). In this double self-portrait, Red Star presents Native American culture, and women in particular, as modern, enduring, and strong.

Zanele Muholi’s brave project Faces and phases, 2006-2016

Zanele Muholi’s brave project Faces and phases, 2006-2016

In the portrait series Faces and Phases (2006-2016), South African photographer and visual activist Zanele Muholi directed their attention to the Black lesbian, gender non-comforming, and trans community in South Africa. Despite rights granted to LGBTQ+ individuals in the South African constitution, they are still often subjected to discrimination and acts of violence. According to Muholi, “Just existing daily is political in itself,” and thus they use portrait photography as a way to validate the existence of Black queer South Africans.