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Women’s History Month: Jenna Lash’s art is right on the money, when it comes to painting portraits

<i>WCBS</i><br/>Jenna Lash's art collection features currencies emblazoned with women from across the globe.
WCBS
WCBS
Jenna Lash's art collection features currencies emblazoned with women from across the globe.

By LISA ROZNER

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    NEW YORK (WCBS) — It is Women’s History Month, and we’re introducing you to a Chelsea artist who is on the money when it comes to painting portraits.

She showed CBS2’s Lisa Rozner how she aims to inspire by depicting currency from all over the world featuring females.

From the Mexican peso, which features Frida Kahlo, to the West African franc, and coins from ancient Greece, inside her West 29th Street studio, Jenna Lash’s artistic collection of currency emblazoned with women spans the globe.

“This is Australian currency, and they have a woman on their currency. A woman who was a famous journalist and was a women’s rights advocate,” Lash said.

Over the years, Lash noticed other countries feature cultural icons on their currency. In Sweden, a famous singer that appears on a bank note. On the wall representing the U.S., there are only special edition coins of Helen Keller and Susan B. Anthony.

No women are permanently on American currency, only men involved in government.

“How many times have you asked yourself ‘When is the U.S. going to have a woman?'” Rozner asked.

“I have asked that many times,” Lash said.

That’s why, when the U.S. Mint announced five women would appear on quarters this year, Lash started brainstorming her next masterpiece, beginning with poet and civil rights activist Maya Angelou, whose quarter is already in circulation. The coin of the first female astronaut, Dr. Sally Ride, was released this month.

“I remember her going up into space,” Lash said.

And among the three others is the first Chinese American film star, Anna May Wong.

“They suffered along the way and came out on top, transcended it. So they’re such an inspiration,” Lash said. “I think every country takes tremendous pride in their currency, no matter who’s on it. Because it is a reflection of who they are and their values, their culture, their community.”

As the wife of an accountant, Lash takes responsibility in connecting the monetary dots, ensuring generations like her two daughters and new granddaughter can now truly take the nation’s diverse history at face value.

Every year until 2025, the U.S. will release new coins featuring women. Only two women have ever appeared on American paper currency: Pocahontas and Martha Washington. That will eventually change permanently. The Biden administration announced Harriet Tubman would replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill, but no details on the timeline have been released.

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