Picture perfect

Photo of adorable 2-year-old girl mesmerized by painting goes viral

Parker Curry looking at a new portrait of Michelle Obama at at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. (Facebook / Ben Hines)

A photo of a 2-year-old girl who planted herself, mouth agape, in front of Michelle Obama’s new portrait at the National Portrait Gallery has touched the hearts of thousands of people — including the artist behind the towering painting.

As BuzzFeed News reports, North Carolina resident Ben Hines, who paid a visit to the gallery on a recent trip to Washington, D.C., snapped a photo of the little girl as she stood transfixed in front of the photo. “I made a pilgrimage today and we were delighted to wait in line behind this fellow art lover & hopeful patriot,” he wrote in a Facebook post that has since racked up 23, 000 likes.

After the photo began to gain traction online, media reports revealed that the young patron of the gallery was Parker Curry, whose mom, Jessica, brought her to the museum to see the Obamas’ portraits. “I was trying to get her to turn around so I could take a picture, but she wouldn’t cooperate,” Curry told BuzzFeed. “She just wanted to stare at it. She was fascinated.”

Curry also said in an interview with CNN that her daughter “believes Michelle Obama is a queen, and she wants to be a queen as well.”

On Tuesday, the former first lady posted on Twitter to say that she had the opportunity to meet little Parker and told her to “keep on dreaming big” and “maybe one day I’ll proudly look up at a portrait of you!” She also included an ever-so-brief video clip of herself and Parker dancing. On Instagram, Obama posted the same message along with a photo of Parker and herself.

Among the many people who were moved by Hines’ photo of Parker was Amy Sherald, the painter behind the portrait. “When I look at this picture I think back to my first field trip in elementary school to a museum,” she wrote on Instagram. “I had only seen paintings in encyclopedias up to that point in my life. There was a show up of work by painter [Bo Bartlett] whose work still inspires me to this day. There was a painting of a black man standing in front of a house. I don’t remember a lot about my childhood, but I do have a few emotional memories etched into my mind forever and seeing that painting of a man that looked like he could be my father stopped me dead in my tracks. This was my first time seeing real paintings that weren’t in a book and also weren’t painted in another century. I didn’t realize that none of them had me in them until I saw that painting of Bo’s. I knew I wanted to be an artist already, but seeing that painting made me realize that I could. What dreams may come?”

View this post on Instagram

Feeling all the feels. 😭 When I look at this picture I think back to my first field trip in elementary school to a museum. I had only seen paintings in encyclopedias up to that point in my life. There was a show up of work by painter @thebobartlett whose work still inspires me to this day. There was a painting of a black man standing in front of a house. I don't remember a lot about my childhood, but I do have a few emotional memories etched into my mind forever and seeing that painting of a man that looked like he could be my father stopped me dead in my tracks. This was my first time seeing real paintings that weren't in a book and also weren't painted in another century. I didn't realize that none of them had me in them until I saw that painting of Bo's. I knew I wanted to be an artist already, but seeing that painting made me realize that I could. What dreams may come? #representationmatters

A post shared by A M Y S H E R A L D (@asherald) on

At the unveiling of her portrait, Michelle Obama expressed a similar hope that young people and “particularly girls and girls of color … will come to this place and they will look up and they will see an image of someone who looks like them hanging on the wall of this great American institution.”

Mission accomplished, it seems.

Read the full story at BuzzFeed News.

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