Arts / Galleries

These Special Digital Portraits of All 45 U.S. Presidents Will Blow Your Mind

Bill Clinton Goes Burt Reynolds, Abe Rides a Vespa and More — Celebrate President's Day With Serious Art Style

BY // 02.16.19

Presidents’ Day, a throwback to an era of civility and statesmanship, is revived with great wit by Houston artist Julia McLaurin.

She brings presidential history and the inhabitants of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue back to our consciousness with more than a modicum of wit. The scientifically trained artist veered from microbiology to photography and was discovered by the Houston gallery Foto Relevance at a recent MFAH Glassell School of Art exhibition.

The rest is… well, history.

McLaurin uses Photoshop with great aplomb incorporating arcane yet true details into her digitally collaged POTUS portraits. It all began with the 16th president.

“I came across the iconic image of Abe Lincoln,” McLaurin told PaperCity. “I knew I had to put Abe in some fantastical, updated situation. As my father had recently purchased a Vespa, I felt Lincoln needed to get out and get some air.”

In her latest works, Honest Abe careens by on a Vespa; John F. Kennedy gives a peace sign; George H.W. Bush poses in Renaissance garb with his steadfast canine and a stalk of broccoli; Bill Clinton reclines à la Burt Reynolds and basks in a sea of fast food; and Martin Van Buren “spins some sweet beats,” McLaurin says.

Donald Trump’s portrait is still in progress, not to be revealed until her solo exhibition, “Hail to the Chief!” opens this month at Houston’s Foto Relevance (where it will run from February 22 through March 22).

After completing POTUS, the artist told PaperCity she is contemplating the First Ladies, or possibly the next presidential spouse, which could be a First Husband, coming 2020.

Scroll through the slideshow above for 44 of 45  Presidents. For the portrait of the current POTUS, head to Foto Relevance for its big reveal.

“Hail to the Chief!” at Foto Relevance, 616 Hawthorne St. Houston; opening reception Friday, February 22, 6 to 8 pm; artist talk Saturday, February 23, 10 am; edition of 15 (11 x 15 inch print on 16 x 20 inch paper), $750 unframed, $850 framed); more info here.

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