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Michelle Obama portrait artist unveils mural of Philly teen

In this Tuesday, June 18, 2019 photo, pedestrians walk near a Mural Arts Philadelphia mural of Najee Spencer-Young by artist Amy Sherald by in Philadelphia. Sherald is the artist who painted the official portrait of Michelle Obama. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

PHILADELPHIA — A mural by the artist who painted the official portrait of Michelle Obama is being dedicated in Philadelphia.

Amy Sherald might be best known for the painting of the former first lady, but her overall body of work represents everyday lives of black Americans.

So it’s fitting that the 6-story-tall mural being dedicated Thursday portrays Najee Spencer-Young, a 19-year-old participant in Philadelphia’s Mural Arts education program.

Sherald tells the Philadelphia Inquirer she chose Spencer-Young during a class trip to her studio. The artist saw it as an opportunity to boost the self-esteem of the teenager and those who look like her.

The mural depicts Spencer-Young in a black-and-white flower print trench coach and mustard yellow hat, looking confident and composed — and very imposing — against a bright blue background.

The Associated Press