The world’s cannabis fans have taken a shining to President Obama’s newly unveiled official portrait for the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery. The portrait by famed artist Kehinde Wiley debuted Monday to mixed reviews depending on political persuasion. But there was one group that was on-board with the lush, green, vibrant painting.
From twitter to reddit and beyond, lovers of President Obama’s ‘hands-off state-legal cannabis’ policy cheered the foliage-packed piece, which seemed to beg for some photoshopping.
Artist Wiley united visual themes from Abraham Lincoln’s portrait by George P. A. Healy with call-outs to classical Renaissance garden portraiture, including visual references to the President Obama’s Kenyan, Hawaiian and Chicago background. That background also included time in the famed “choom gang”, the name for his high school clique which partook of cannabis, according to the President’s biography.
The New York Times notes: “What makes this one distinctive is the personal part. Mr. Wiley has set Mr. Obama against — really embedded him in — a bower of what looks like ground cover. From the greenery sprout flowers that have symbolic meaning for the sitter. African blue lilies represent Kenya, his father’s birthplace; jasmine stands for Hawaii, where Mr. Obama himself was born; chrysanthemums, the official flower of Chicago, reference the city where his political career began, and where he met his wife.”
“From top to bottom and side to side, the entire field of the picture is filled with a lush garden.” notes the Washington Post. “They make inroads on his jacket, trousers and shoes. In a few hours, he may disappear altogether.”
“Instead of the darkness that threatens to engulf Lincoln, Wiley substituted an effusion of plants.”
The Washington Post’s Christopher Ingraham — who covers drug policy reform — was among the