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A Utah artist designed a groundbreaking new $100 gold coin that features a black Lady Liberty.
Justin Kunz's design for the 2017 American Liberty 225th Anniversary Gold Coin shows a woman in profile, looking to her right, her braided hair pulled back and topped with a crown of four large stars. It includes the years 1792, when the U.S. Mint was founded, and 2017. And below her, it has the familiar slogan "In God We Trust." The other side of the coin shows a flying eagle.
Kunz, a painter and illustrator, said he wanted his Liberty to be "distinctive" and forward looking. He got the idea for the stars from the Statue of Freedom, which sits atop the U.S. Capitol.
"Stars are aspirational in nature. We look at the stars and dream," said Kunz, an assistant professor at Brigham Young University's design department. "They represent possibility and potential."
Scheduled for release on April 6, the 1-ounce coin is the first in a series of 24-karat gold collectibles. Future coins are planned to depict Liberty in designs representing Asian-Americans, Hispanic-Americans and Indian-Americans. The mint's goal is to reflect "the cultural and ethnic diversity of the United States." While the coin's face value is $100, the gold pieces likely will cost about $1,500 each.
Kunz enjoys coins as artistic media for a few reasons, including their size and durability.
"You can make art so small that you can carry it around in your pocket," he said, "and it will be around when I'm dead."
This is his fifth coin design for the mint. His first was a gold coin released in 2008. He also designed a 2014 silver dollar honoring the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Beyond his participation in the mint's Artistic Infusion Program, Kunz has worked on video games and his paintings have appeared in galleries in California and Utah.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.