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Obama Portraitist Explains Unusual Painting: ‘Chrysanthemums Are the State Flower of Chicago’
‘When you look at this painting, there is sure, an amazingly handsome man seated’

WILEY: “It does not get any better than that. I was humbled by this invitation, but I was also inspired by Barack Obama’s personal story. That since in which he and I both do have that echo of single parents, African fathers, that search for the father, that sense of twinning. There is this echo of he and I in that narrative. When you look at this painting, there is sure, an amazingly handsome man seated, but there's also botanicals that are going on there that nod towards his personal story. Chrysanthemums, the state flower of Chicago, Illinois. There's flowers that point toward Kenya, toward Hawaii. In a very symbolic way, what I am doing is charting his path on Earth through those plants that sort of weave their way. There is a fight going on between he and the foreground and the plants that are sort of trying to announce themselves underneath his feet. Who gets to be the star of the show, the story or the man who inhabits that story? It is all chance-driven. Mr. President, I thank you for giving me a chance and I thank you for giving this nation a chance to experience your splendor on a global scale. Thank you.”