Najwa apparently is getting bored sitting around the house waiting for the weather to warm up, so we called one of her friends and headed out to the Smithsonian American Art Museum where there were having a family day. Though they had different tables with activities and live music, Najwa has always been a fan of scavenger hunts. So, off we went around the SAAM looking for different pieces of art.

Najwa and her friend Tiera.

Scavenger hunts are always cool because if you know very little [or nothing] about the artwork, it’s a matter of wandering around unsure of what you’re looking at or where to go next. The SAAM is much bigger than I thought, even considering we’ve been there before. And some of the exhibits were actually quite fascinating.

This map is embroidery on fabric with the routes taken from forced migration of South Vietnamese refugees by plane in Asia and through the Orderly Departure Program throughout the world.

Reconstructing an Exodus History: flight routes from camps and ODP cases (2017)

This was a teletype machine churning out the news from the 1960s. The news articles are from various news sources from the 60s with articles from both points of view on the Vietnam War.

The highlight for the young ladies, though, was seeing the portrait of Michelle Obama by Amy Sherald. This was in the National Portrait Gallery section of the building.

Obama selected the artist, as well as the dress by the brand Milly by fashion designer Michelle Smith. Obama’s face is stylized in shades of gray, a key theme in works by Sherald, and the background is a simple blue evoking American folk art. Rather than focusing on an individualized glamor, the dress dominates the work as a mountain-like triangle. The dress is a variation on a halter gown from the Spring 2017 collection, with a modern geometric pattern that the Sherald said reminded her of the works of 20th century Dutch painter Mondrian and the African-American quilting tradition of Gee’s Bend, Alabama.
Najwa and Tiera and the First Lady Michelle Obama portrait by Amy Sherald.

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