Portraits of Leadership
Responses to the Obama Portraits

September 3–October 30, 2022

Make a portrait of a leader in your life and see it on view at the MFA

The Obamas are coming to Boston, and we want you to be a part of it!

Share your own portraits of leadership with us, and we’ll put them on display alongside our exhibition of the Obama paintings this September. Whoever the leaders are in your life—family members or friends; mentors, teachers, or coaches—we want to see them all! We welcome original submissions from all ages on five-by-seven-inch paper. Whether a drawing, painting, watercolor, or photograph, your distinct vision will have a special place at the MFA this fall—and help form a larger portrait of leadership in our community.

This exhibition is inspired by the portraits of President Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama by Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald. Unlike earlier images of presidents and first ladies, the paintings break barriers, paving the way for new artistic visions. Wiley’s and Sherald’s pictures are at once extraordinary and approachable—making space for people of color and allowing audiences to see themselves in President Obama and the former First Lady.

Call for Submissions


The Project is open to participants of all ages.


You may submit your artwork through July 29, 2022. Unfortunately, we cannot accommodate late submissions.

How to Submit

By Mail

Mail to:

Portraits of Leadership Community Art Project
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
465 Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA 02115

In Person

Make a portrait at the MFA and submit your work at Art in July on July 9, 16, and 23.

Drop off any time at the MFA’s Huntington Avenue Entrance.


Submit online through ArtCall. Online submissions can be works created digitally, or photographs of physical works.

Submit Your Portrait Online

Limited to one (1) artwork submission per person.
Artwork submissions will not be returned.

When you submit your artwork, please include its title as well as your name, age, and neighborhood.

Submission Details

All submitted artwork must be:

  • 5 in. (W) x 7 in. (H) in a 2D Portrait/vertical rectangular format
  • On pinnable paper
  • In the following forms and media:
    • Line art/drawing: pen, pencil, marker etc.
    • Painted: watercolor, poster paint, acrylic preferred
    • Photographs/scans
    • Collage: paper preferred

Each submission to the Project must not contain artwork that, in the sole and absolute discretion of the MFA:

  • Is inappropriate, obscene, hateful, tortious, defamatory, libelous or otherwise objectionable
  • Promotes bigotry, racism, hatred, or harm against any group or individual, or promotes discrimination based on race, gender, religion, nationality, disability, sexual orientation, or age
  • Violates or infringes a third party's rights, including but not limited to privacy, publicity, or intellectual property rights
  • Is unlawful, in violation of, or contrary to applicable laws or regulations
  • The MFA does not wish to associate themselves with, in their sole discretion

Participation in the Project constitutes each participant’s consent for the MFA or their agents to use the artwork for advertising, trade, and promotional purposes in any media (now or hereafter known), worldwide, and in perpetuity, without payment or consideration.

MFA reserves the right to cancel, suspend, and/or modify the Project, or any part of it, at any time, at its sole discretion. Artwork submissions will not be returned.

Have questions? Contact us at learning@mfa.org.

  • Gallery next to MFA Signature Shop (Gallery 183)

How to Create a Portrait

Mixed media portrait featuring a person's head, a patterned heart, images of rooftops, and a purple flower

What does a leader look like to you? As an artist, you can create a portrait that looks exactly like the person you are showcasing, or you can capture a person’s personality or spirit instead of their likeness. Find everything you need to create your own portrait of leadership—from materials to step-by-step instructions.

Related Events


National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian

Organized by the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery, Washington, DC.

Bank of America, National Sponsor

Support for the Obama Portraits national tour has been generously provided by Bank of America.

The Lynch Foundation logo

Generous Supporter with Carolyn and Peter Lynch.

Additional support from Susan Clark Livingston.