Kerry James Marshall Gives Personal Tour of MCA Show to Michelle Obama

Marshall has a string of A-list fans, including Beyoncé.

From left to right: Cheryl Lynn Bruce, Michelle Obama, Kerry James Mashall, and Madeleine Grynsztejn. Photo courtesy of MCA Chicago.
From left to right: Cheryl Lynn Bruce, Michelle Obama, Kerry James Mashall, and Madeleine Grynsztejn. Photo courtesy of MCA Chicago.

While in Chicago this weekend, Michelle Obama paid a visit to the MCA Chicago to see the solo exhibition of the critically acclaimed artist Kerry James Marshall.

At the museum, the First Lady was given a personal tour of the exhibition, titled “Kerry James Marshall: Mastry,” by the artist himself and the MCA Pritzker director Madeleine Grynsztejn.

Kerry James Marshall, Plunge, (1992). Courtesy of artnet.

Kerry James Marshall, Plunge, (1992). Courtesy of artnet.

“We were honored to have Michelle Obama, the First Lady of the United States, come to the MCA to see the work of Kerry James Marshall,” enthused Grynsztejn. “She is an important advocate for arts and education and we greatly appreciated her visit to the MCA on the occasion of this momentous and meaningful exhibition.”

“Mastry” is the largest ever retrospective of Marshall’s work. The much loved artist—born in 1955 in Birmingham, Alabama, before the Civil Rights Act was passed in America in 1964—paints luscious scenes from middle class African American life. The way he celebrates and elevates his subjects chronicles the African American experience in an unprecedented way.

Marshall was recently awarded a medal for services to humanity by the University of Chicago. The Rosenberger Medal is awarded to those who have benefited humanity through their work and Marshall received it for his contribution to improving the representation of black people around the world.

Kerry James Marshall poses during the NAMM Foundation Honors Turnaround Arts and GRAMMY Educator event Photo Kris Connor/Getty Images for NAMM

Kerry James Marshall poses during the NAMM Foundation Honors Turnaround Arts and GRAMMY Educator event Photo Kris Connor/Getty Images for NAMM.

“Kerry James Marshall is making a lasting contribution to history with works that are aesthetically powerful, but also relevant to issues facing our society today – from racial injustice to the search for equality. At the same time, his paintings are beautiful, humanistic, and necessary,” Grynsztejn’s statement continues. “Mrs. Obama’s visit underscores the importance of this great artist, who is at once a hero of our city and also a pillar of the community.”

Michelle Obama has long been a supporter of the arts and brought many modern and contemporary artists into the White House art collection, including Mark Rothko, Josef Albers, Robert Rauschenberg, Sam Francis, Edward Hopper, and Alma Thomas.


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