Illustration of Michelle Obama by Gelila Mesfin. Image via Instagram
Illustration of Michelle Obama by Gelila Mesfin. Image via Instagram

An Ethiopian art student is getting far more attention to her work than she might ever imagine thanks to a case of painting plagiarism. (Not to be confused with speech plagiarism.)

Gelila Mesfin posted an image of Michelle Obama as ancient Egyptian royalty on her Instagram account — noting that it was based on a photo by fashion (and New York Times) photographer Collier Schorr.

But as CBS News notes, 24-year-old creative planner Chris Devins found the image and used it for a South Side mural in the former first lady’s hometown of Chicago.

“He claims that Mesfin’s creation itself was an interpretation of another artist’s original,” the site said. (He used a GoFundMe page to raise nearly $12,000 for the side-of-a-building project.)

But Friday night, Mesfin called out Devins on her Instagram account for not getting permission to copy the image, writing, “this is so disheartening and so disrespectful on so many levels.”

The parties eventually kissed and made up, however.

“In statements to the website DNAinfo Chicago, Mr. Devins apologized, saying that his organization often uses found images as sources of inspiration,” said The New York Times.

Later, he said, “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.” He also called his use of Ms. Mesfin’s image ‘sloppy’ and reached out to the artist to offer a licensing fee.”

The original work and coverage of controversy:

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