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Virtual Conversation: Roman Portraits of Power



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Ancient Roman

The official portraits of President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama, painted by Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald, respectively, are remarkable depictions of influential leaders that also challenge conventions of power and privilege. Thousands of years ago, the ancient Romans perfected their own techniques for representing their leaders—this program, facilitated by educator Sam Ramos, explores examples from the museum’s collection.

This program is inspired by The Obama Portraits exhibition, on view at the Art Institute June 18–August 15.

Sam Ramos is associate director of Innovation and Creativity in the Department of Learning and Public Engagement at the Art Institute of Chicago. He teaches extensively in galleries, classrooms, and online on a range of topics including the politics of power, the ways in which art informs legal and medical practices, and issues of sentiment and everyday life. His fiction and essays have appeared in a number of publications in print and online including the Chicago Tribune, the Austin Chronicle, and Fiction magazine. He received both his BFA in Art History, Theory, and Criticism and his MFA in writing from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

We recommend using a laptop or desktop computer and downloading the latest version of Zoom to enjoy this program.

If you have any questions about virtual programming, please reach out to

For questions related to accessibility accommodations, please email


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