A beautiful mural of Michelle Obama was unveiled on the wall of an apartment building on Chicago's South Side Friday, two blocks from where the former first lady was raised, DNA Info reports. "I wanted to present her as what I think she is, so she's clothed as an Egyptian queen. I thought that was appropriate," artist Chris Devins, who raised almost $12,000 on GoFundMe to create the portrait, told the site.
What should be a feel-good story comes with a major issue: Chris isn't the original creator of the image. CBS Chicago reported that Gelila Mesfin, an Ethiopian art student studying in Rhode Island, created the image, which she shared on Instagram last year.
Gelila was shocked to learn that the image was used this way. According to an Instagram post this past weekend, she found out about the Chicago mural when people started DMing her the DNA Info article about the artwork's unveiling.
"How can you just steal someone's artwork... someone's hard work and claim it like it's yours," Gelila wrote. "How can you go on record and say you designed this... this is so disheartening and so disrespectful on so many levels."
"The man is a teacher for God's sake and said he was doing this to create positivity for his students and community... but he didn't think that stealing a young girl's artwork and making a profit out of it does more damage than good," she said in the post.
In last year's Instagram post showcasing her piece, Gelila credited photographer Collier Schorr, who captured the image of Obama for the New York Times Style Magazine, which inspired Gelila's artwork.
When contacted by CNN, Chris said he had seen the image on Pinterest and didn't know who had created it, but after he found out he said he "credited Ms. Mesfin for her work immediately."
"I've taken the heat and will gladly do so as long as the kids have a mural they can look up to," he said.
He has also given Gelila an undisclosed licensing fee and given a refund to at least one angry GoFundMe donor, DNA Info reported.
Although some are still angry on Gelila's behalf, she addressed her "Insta-family" in a recent post, saying that she is currently in contact with Chris and is hoping to resolve the matter "in a professional manner," adding, ""I only ask that everyone keep this positive towards him; I preach love, not anger or hate of any kind."
This story originally appeared on Teen Vogue.
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