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Whitfield Lovell was born in Bronx, New York in 1959. In his youth, Lovell assisted his father, an amateur photographer, in his darkroom and observed him at work. Lovell began his formal art training at the High School of Music and Art (NY) and participated in programs at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art. He attended the Maryland Institute and Parsons School of Design, before receiving a BFA from Cooper Union in 1981. Lovell has described himself as "bicultural" -- his father's family was originally from Barbados and his mother grew up in the southern United States. Exposure to the values and attitudes of these two cultures instilled in Lovell a keen interest in what people of different backgrounds deem important and how they remember and honor the past.

During the early 1990s Lovell began to actively collect antique photographs of African-Americans from the early 20th century, drawing upon these images for his work. It was also during this period that he made his first site-specific installation. During a residency at Villa Val Lemme in Capriatta d'Orba, Italy, Lovell responded directly to his environment (the villa had been built by a slave trader during the early 20th century) by drawing images, including a self-portrait, directly on the walls. In the late 1990s, he began drawing on wooden architectural elements removed from their original context and combining them with domestic objects to create loosely narrative tableaux, and in the early 2000s he started a series of drawings on paper. During this time, he continued to vary his source photographs, using professional portraits, snapshots, and identification documents.

Whitfield Lovell has received numerous honors and awards, including the Nancy Graves Grant for Visual Artists (2009), the MacArthur Fellowship (2007), the Richard C. Diebenkorn Fellowship (2003), the New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship (1997), and the Joan Mitchell Foundation Award Grant (1996). He taught at the School of Visual Arts in New York from 1987--2001 and has been a visiting artist at such institutions as Rice University (1995), the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture (2001), and the Contemporary Art Center of Virginia (2002). His work is included in numerous private and public collections (among them the permanent collection of Smith College Museum of Art), and has appeared in both solo and group exhibitions at venues across the United States.

Photo Credit: Sandra Pac