Like many, 5-year-old Ivy Seavers-Reale was drawn to the portrait of first lady Michelle Obama created by Baltimore-based painter Amy Sherald.
“I like her because she’s strong, kind and nice,” Ivy said of the former first lady.
The resident of Wilson Park in Northeast Baltimore loved the portrait so much that she asked for a replica dress for her birthday. Not only did she get the dress, she got to meet with Sherald at the Baltimore Museum of Art this past weekend.
Ivy’s fascination with the portrait and Sherald goes back to February, when the portraits were unveiled.
Her older brothers were obsessed with President Barack Obama’s portrait by Kehinde Wiley.
Ivy preferred the first lady’s. She also said that she liked the portrait because it featured some of her favorite colors: pink and blue.
“She was looking at the portrait and said: ‘That’s Michelle Obama and she’s a queen,’” recalled Ivy’s mother, Marshalynne Seavers. “In her 4-year-old mind she sees everything that is good in America. When Michelle Obama speaks she has a way of making sure everyone feels included and comfortable. My children see that. They listen to her. She interacts with children often. She seems approachable and familiar. So of course my 4-year-old is attracted to that kind of person — who is approachable, kind and likes children.”
Seavers knew she wanted to make her daughter’s 5th birthday memorable by buying her a $150 replica of Obama’s portrait dress by Magnolia Lake Children’s Clothing.
“That’s the only thing she wanted for her birthday,” Seavers said. “She wears it around the house all the time. … It’s a fantastic break from the princesses. She has plenty of princess dresses too. They have fallen to the wayside.”
Seavers decided to up the ante and bring her daughter to a talk Sherald gave at the BMA.
The moment was magical for young Ivy, according to her mother.
“She said [to Sherald], ‘I love Michelle Obama.’ She said, ‘Thank you for making the portrait.’ She’s super-shy,” Seavers said. “She was very excited to go.”
At the end of the day, Ivy told her mother that Sherald “makes beautiful things.”
A picture of Ivy and Sherald sitting on a staircase in the museum on Sherald’s Instagram account has gone viral, getting more than 15,400 likes.
Next, Seavers wants to take Ivy to see the actual portrait in Washington, D.C.
“I don’t think she understands the scale of it,” she said.
And Ivy may end up with a poster print of the portrait.
“They want to bring that portrait into the house,” Seavers said of her children. “They feel some kinship. They want to have some ownership over it.”