Keith Mayerson


Obama and the 9-11 painting at the Whitney, July 17, 2015, from a photo by Pete Sousa


After pouring over Pete Souza's terrific new book of his photos with the Obama administration, I saw the great image of them at the Whitney. Remembering Whitney director Adam Weinberg's moving story he told me of their visit to the museum to see the inaugural downtown exhibition America is Hard to See, and that they had a moment in front of the 9-11 painting, I emailed Souza, who referred me to the National Archives at the Obama Library, who found and sent me the image I brought up into this painting.

It was an amazing opportunity of exhibiting this work for the inaugural show, it will forever mean so much to me. Knowing too that the Obamas saw it (whom we miss so much) and could have an experience regarding the work and all that it symbolizes (along everyone else!) means the world to us. I thought it was a picture I had to do, as it was such a momentous moment for me in every way, and hoping it also works as an allegory for our current tumultuous times...