When My Co-Workers Found Out I Was Painted by Obama’s Portraitist

Earlier this week, the National Portrait Gallery unveiled former President Barack Obama’s official portrait, painted by the artist Kehinde Wiley. While the painting was highly praised on social media, it turns out the former president and I have something in common.  Over 10 years ago, I had the opportunity to be painted by Kehinde Wiley after answering an ad on Craigslist.

Now called, St. Dionysus, the portrait hangs in the Milwaukee Art Museum. Check out my interview on WNYC Radio.



“I remember it like it was yesterday,” says WNYC’s Darnell Jefferson, who, in 2005, answered an ad on Craigslist — and wound up becoming a model posing for Wiley. “I remember wearing that blue bubble coat, with that crown — I was probably 24 years old when I did that portrait with him.”

“I never knew that Kehinde would be this big today. The fact that our former President chose him to be his portraitist, is like ‘wow.’ I never knew that when I first did that shoot with him, that he would be that huge. I’m glad to be in the same class as our former President.”

Not only was I in a portrait, I also found out I’m in Reginald Baylor’s coloring book drawing. The Milwaukee Art Museum Reginald Baylor Collector’s Edition Coloring Book is available online and in the Museum Store.

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