Rossin's portrait of Maya Angelou on the forthcoming stamp.
Rossin’s portrait of Maya Angelou on the forthcoming stamp. (Courtesy U.S. Postal Service)

The new stamp featuring the late poet, author and activist Maya Angelou has an Intown connection. Renowned artist Ross Rossin, whose studio is in Midtown, painted the oil-on-canvas portrait of Angelou that will be featured on the stamp.

Rossin painted the hyper-realistic portrait of Angelou in 2013 and it now hangs in the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery. The “forever” stamp will be released by the U.S. Postal Service on April 7.

“I always wanted to paint Maya as she was a voice that inspired millions — not just as an individual, but as a legendary poet and a civil rights icon who transcended generations,” Rossin said. “I was compelled by the challenge to portray her forgiving smile and her aura of unconditional love and understanding that comes across when having a conversation with her.”

Rossin was introduced to Angelou in 2013 by his friend and former portrait subject Ambassador Andrew Young and  paid a visit to her home in North Carolina.

“During my visit to her Winston-Salem home I spoke with Maya for several hours about her life journey and courage of finding the light in the midst of her darkness. It is her energy, the God Particle which struck me. Later that evening, Oprah Winfrey hosted a birthday party for Angelou. This was the critical moment when I saw Maya through the eyes of others. My personal experience around Maya’s aura led to the creation of an intimate yet universal painting, which later Maya enthusiastically approved.”

Angelou died May 28, 2014.

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.