One of my favorite artists on Instagram will have one of her images of Michelle Obama represented as an Egyptian Queen posted as a mural outside of Bouchet Elementary (Michelle Obama’s elementary school) two blocks from the former first lady’s childhood home.
Ethiopian-born artist Gelila Mesfin also known as @thick_east_African_girl on Instagram is known for her beautiful digital pieces where she recreates images of some of our favorite celebrities and influencers as African Queens and Kings.
Watch the piece she created of Michelle Obama:
Then she created this one of both Michelle and Barack Obama:
The image was originally taken by another “artist” Chis Devins who created what he called the mural project and started a Gofundme to get the image posted on the southeast corner of Chappel Avenue and 74th Street in South Shore.
According to him:
“I wanted to present her as what I think she is, so she’s clothed as an Egyptian queen. I thought that was appropriate,” Devins said Friday evening.
“The purpose of this mural is to give today’s children someone they can literally look up to and to celebrate Mrs. Obama’s life and accomplishments during the last 8 years as First Lady of the United States,” the GoFundMe stated.
Chicago’s South Side really has no chill… pic.twitter.com/x7PSZA8X6g
— #FreeBresha (@prisonculture) April 21, 2017
The problem with his effort was that he did not credit the original artist for the piece and he took donations for the mural under the pretense that the image was his.
After Gelila Mesfin got wind of the story and what Chis Devin was doing with her original piece of art she told her followers, contacted him directly and contacted the publication that originally posted about the mural. The publication updated their story credit Gelila today.
Via DNA INFO
That image was created by Ethiopian-born artist Gelila Mesfin, who posted a photo of the work to her Instagram account, @Thick_East_African_Girl, in November. After news of the mural surfaced Friday night, she criticized Devins for not reaching out, saying “this is so disheartening and so disrespectful on so many levels.”
“I wouldn’t mind if he had given me credit or said he took the design from another artist but saying you designed it is just wrong!” she wrote in an Instagram post.
In an email to DNAinfo Saturday morning, Devins said that his mural was inspired by her piece.
“Our nonprofit Urban Planning Projects often include painting inspired by found images,” he wrote in a message similar to an update he posted on the GoFundMe page. “We were blown away by a wonderful image we stumbled on and only found out after the fact who the source of our inspiration was. We in no way meant to [infringe] on anyone’s creativity.”
On Twitter Saturday morning, Devins thanked Mesfin, who now lives in Rhode Island, and said he only found out her name beyond her handle after news of the mural appeared online and he said he was “not trying to take credit” for her work.
“It was sloppy,” he admitted.
In the email, he said he has reached out to Mesfin, “who has been offered a licensing fee, and that we did not intend to claim authorship, only inspiration.”
We certainly hope he will give Gelila full credit for her work and the fact that her piece will have such a prominent place on the walls just outside of Michelle Obama’s old elementary school is awesome. Great job Gelila, you have our 100% support!