The special edition Moonperson is a sculpture featuring an iridescent facade draped with luscious green vines and brilliant pink florals. In other words, it is quintessentially Wiley, who is known for his naturalistic portraiture that typically places Black subjects in contemporary attire against intricately patterned backdrops referencing art-historical settings. He became the first Black American to paint an official portrait of a United States president when he rendered Barack Obama in 2018. That work is in the collection of the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.
“Kehinde Wiley’s Moon Person sculpture represents inclusivity and diversity marked by the historical, environmental and nature relevance of the botanicals,” MTV said in a statement to Rolling Stone.
“The design features botanical vines seamlessly flowing up and around the figure’s legs, body, and arms as a commentary on the ethnic histories that surround America. Each intertwined vine or leaf has a different historical relevance, such as the seeds from African slaves, that are woven into the American tapestry. The sculpture complements Wiley’s forthcoming series of portraits, in which he plans to create paintings featuring his subjects lying on their sides as vines encircle their bodies.”