Whitfiled Lovell exhibition coming to Mint Museum in Charlotte

Through intricate drawings, three-dimensional storytelling, compelling assemblages, and multisensory installations, Whitfield Lovell: Passages, presents lesser-discussed aspects of African American history that raise universal questions about identity, memory, and America’s collective heritage. The exhibition, organized by the American Federation of Arts in collaboration with artist Whitfield Lovell, will fill galleries on Level 3 and Level 4 of Mint Museum Uptown June 29–September 22, 2024. Museum admission will be free June 29 and 30 to celebrate the opening of the exhibition.

A 2007 MacArthur Foundation fellowship recipient, Whitfield Lovell is internationally renowned for his installations that incorporate masterful Conté crayon portraits of anonymous African Americans from the period between the Emancipation Proclamation and the Civil Rights Movement. Using vintage photography as his source, Lovell often pairs his subjects with found objects, evoking personal memories, ancestral connections, and the collective American past.

Passages references a central theme of Lovell’s work that explores the struggle for equality, physical migration, social progress, and self-sufficiency that have been part of the African American experience. Lovell’s work seeks to elicit a visceral response in viewers by tapping memories and emotions through sound, smell, and touch, as well as sight, says Jen Sudul Edwards, PhD, chief curator and curator of contemporary art at The Mint Museum.

“For Lovell, the design of the exhibition is integral to the experience he wants to transmit to his audiences,” Edwards says. “While this is a traveling show, Lovell and his team work closely with each institution, so each iteration best relays the intention of his work.”

The exhibition brings together for the first time two of Lovell’s experiential, immersive installations: Deep River (2013) and The Richmond Project (2001). Through a combination of video projections, sounds of lapping water and bird calls, a mound of soil, music, drawings, and everyday objects, Deep River documents the perilous journey freedom-seekers took by crossing the Tennessee River during the American Civil War.

The Richmond Project is a profound homage to the first major African American entrepreneurial community in Jackson Ward, Richmond, Virginia. Through a series of intimate domestic interior settings, the emotionally stirring installation pays tribute to the lives, names, and faces of the people who lived in this historic neighborhood.

The exhibition also includes works from Lovell’s past series, Kin (2008-2011), and his newest, The Reds (2021-2022). The Reds are presented alongside two operational telephones that, when their receivers are lifted, emit the familiar and galvanizing refrain of “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” The late 19th-century song conveys faith and freedom, allying exodus from enslavement to the Biblical concept of the promised land.

Charlotte is one of six stops for the national exhibition tour of Whitfield Lovell: Passages.

Whitfield Lovell Exhibition Programming

Whitfield Lovell 'Visitation - Our Best'
Whitfield Lovell ‘Visitation – Our Best’

Artist Talk: Whitfield Lovell
June 27, 7:15 PM
Mint Museum Uptown

Artist Whitfield Lovell joins Chief Curator and Curator of Contemporary Art Jen Sudul Edwards, PhD, will discuss Whitfield Lovell: Passages and the process and motivations behind Lovell’s work. The event is free.


Michèle Wije, PhD, is a former curator of exhibitions at the American Federation of Arts. She began her career at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and has organized several exhibitions, including Sparkling Amazons: Abstract Expressionist Women of the 9th St. Show (2019) and Bisa Butler: Portraits (2020) for the Katonah Museum of Art, Katonah, New York.


The Mint Museum exhibition is free for members and youth ages 18 and younger; $15 for adults; $10 for seniors ages 65 and older and college students with ID. Admission is free 5-9 PM on Wednesdays. Purchase tickets at mintmuseum.org.


Established in 1936 as North Carolina’s first art museum, The Mint Museum is a leading, innovative cultural institution and museum of international art and design. With two locations — Mint Museum Randolph in the heart of Eastover and Mint Museum Uptown at Levine Center for the Arts on South Tryon Street — the Mint boasts one of the largest collections in the Southeast and is committed to engaging and inspiring members of the global community.  


The American Federation of Arts is the leader in traveling exhibitions internationally. A nonprofit organization founded in 1909, the AFA is dedicated to enriching the public’s experience and understanding of the visual arts through organizing and touring art exhibitions for presentation in museums around the world, publishing exhibition catalogues featuring important scholarly research, and developing educational programs.

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