Elana Hagler’s work is seen at Troy University’s Alabama campuses, and soon, it will be shared with the entire country in the form of a commemorative coin.
A new presidential $1 coin honoring President George H.W. Bush from the U.S. Mint will feature Hagler’s drawing of the 41st president.
“It’s a tremendously big deal for me,” said Hagler, whose “Portrait of the University” hangs in the Adams Administration Building on the University’s Troy Campus. “First of all, it’s an honor to be able to do a portrait of the president of the United States. Usually I make a painting and then one person can have it. With coins, it’s like the most public art there is. People can carry it around with them.”
The gold coin will be released later this year, continuing a series that began in 2007.
Hagler’s drawing was selected from a field in the U.S. Mint’s Artistic Infusion Program by the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts, the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee and the Bush Family.
She can’t yet imagine how it will feel to hold a coin featuring her work.
“Right now, all I can think is it’ll feel surreal,” Hagler said. “I’ve been in this program for one year and hope to be for many years to come. This is the first project that’s been selected. I think it’s hard to imagine until it actually happens.”
She said the process differed from her typical artwork.
“The drawing that I do for coins is very different from the drawing I do for my own art,” Hagler said. “First of all, I have to consider a really tiny canvas. Certain things can and can’t be actually minted, so I have to take that into account. Also, when I do my own paintings and drawings, I like to play around with a certain element of mystery, and I can’t do that with coin design, because everything has to be very carefully articulated.”
Hagler also painted the portrait of U.S. Rep. Terry Everett that is displayed in R. Terry Everett Hall at the University’s Dothan Campus.
She has forged a close relationship with TROY Chancellor Dr. Jack Hawkins, Jr., and his wife, Janice.
“Ever since we moved to Montgomery, Dr. and Mrs. Hawkins have been so supportive of me as an artist,” Hagler said. “They believed in me and my work when I was very much still unknown locally, and I will always be grateful for that.”
Her husband, Aaron, is an associate professor of history at TROY.