Whitfield Lovell (b. 1959) Coin XXVII, 2002 Charcoal on wood 9 5/8 × 9 1/2 × 7 1/2 in. The Studio Museum in Harlem; gift of private collector 2002.25.2

In his “Coin” series, Whitfield Lovell draws portraits of unknown people of African descent on repurposed wood. He works with the wood’s grain to add texture and depth to the composition. The intimate size of the works encourages a personal and private encounter with the figures, which call to mind images of presidents on U.S. coins and banknotes. Lovell seeks to imbue the anonymous portraits in the series with the same value and visibility as the historical figures celebrated in official currency.