Art & Currency - Nov. 2017 - April 2018
– Marianne Bruvel, Curator & Director LCD Gallery
Money is a funny thing: Comprised of pieces of paper and cumbersome bits of metal, it makes pockets and wallets bulge. We count it, save it, lose it, earn it, and spend it. But do we really look at it? The attention and detail of currency from around the world is its own artistry. Many coins and notes are objects of art in and unto themselves. In an age when our transactions are increasingly electronic and cold hard cash is becoming obsolete, Art & Currency takes a closer look at the aesthetics, utility, function, and beauty of money.
While it’s obvious currency has utilitarian worth as a material object, one that is circulated to support economies and lives, on a broader scale, currency also refers to expression, prevalence, and reputation. Ideas gain currency, we are told. Thus Art & Currency can be seen as an arena of exchange regarding the many ways to see money in addition to the many ways we might define fine art. In this way, Art & Currency uncovers and examines layers of value (monetary, cultural, intellectual, political, aesthetic) to ask valuable questions about worth, substance, meaning, significance, and attraction.
Art & Currency begins by bringing diverse artists working in a variety of mediums and forms together. Metallurgist Lauren Tickle, who “upcycles” dollar bills into fine art broaches, necklaces and earrings focuses on transitioning currency into something functional and beautiful, while Stacy Lee Webber, whose “HammerDrill” series crafts beautiful tools from coins, “question the value of labor.” Equally provocative is Justine Smith’s “Lincoln Grenade,” which comments on the explosive power of the dollar. In one the most political works of the show, Dan Tague’s folded dollar bill series relates provocative slogans and messages, a practice that had its genesis during Hurricane Katrina when Tague was stuck on the roof of his house for seven days with only a dollar bill in his pocket. His instinct to communicate and survive resulted in the art depicted in the show. Thus, the works in Art & Currency are surprising, constantly reinventing and reimagining, like C.K. Wilde’s series of portraits which mimic and imitative shading and brushwork using deftly cut and placed pieces of currency. The result is something visually unexpected as viewers puzzle over the natural textures and colors created by paper bills. Equally as astonishing is the mathematically remarkable work of Robert Wechsler which employs an uncanny precision in a process that aestheticizes and elevates the humble penny.
In its most basic form, Art & Currency starts a conversation—about the value of money and art, about the aesthetics of worth, about the importance of beauty and utility. Many of the works from these artists combine currencies from all over the world in just one piece – making the currencies inclusive to one another and allowing them to co-exist and be rearranged, to work together as a whole. In this way, this exhibition demonstrates that money only seems private or personal. What Art & Currency does is demonstrate the interconnectedness of the human via currency.
STACEY LEE WEBBER