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Bonus: Kehinde Wiley Takes Us to Art Church

Photo © Tony Powell. 2015 Art In Embassies Reception. Blair House. January 21, 2015
Tony Powell
Artist Kehinde Wiley created the official portrait of former President Barack Obama, unveiled in February.

It almost seemed like a too-good-to-be-true Black History Month gift: the unveiling of the super-cool official portrait of former President Barack Obama. This distinct image of Obama, which is unlike any other presidential portrait, immediately caused a cultural and artistic buzz.

Even better for us, it happened to be by the mesmerizing Kehinde Wiley, an artist we had on the podcast in 2016 following a controversy at St. Louis’ contemporary art museum. In that episode, titled “Museum Meltdown,” Wiley spoke to us about the complicated intersection of race, representation and art.

Portrait unveiling of former President Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., Feb. 12, 2018. Photo by Pete Souza
Pete Souza/Pete Souza
Pete Souza Photography, LLC
Obama and Wiley during a Feb 12 ceremony at the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery | Photo by Pete Souza, courtesy of the Smithsonian

But there were a lot of things we left on the cutting room floor.

So, in this bonus episode, We Live Here cracks open its vault and shares never-before-heard parts of an interview with Wiley. He gets into the fascination people have with a black artist painting white bodies; a concept he calls “cultural policing;” and the impoliteness of exclusion.

Music in this episode is by St. Louis producer Trifeckta

Kameel Stanley co-hosted and co-produced the We Live Here podcast—covering race, class, power, and poverty in the St. Louis Region—from 2015 to 2018.
Tim Lloyd was a founding host of We Live Here from 2015 to 2018 and was the Senior Producer of On Demand and Content Partnerships until Spring of 2020.