God Trust, is a coin series that compares American heritage against contemporary issues in the nation. By deconstructing mints on US currency and exposing anagrams the emblem is converted to a statement of protest. The Tail-side of a coin is traditionally used to educate and celebrate a national history to the public. The size of coins offer a vantage point in refocusing on themes of capitalism, democracy, and the future of this nation through the lens of our past as an allegory towards reform.
The two main themes of paternalism and capitalism are addressed in physical, social, and spiritual context on all US currency. I’m disfiguring the coins by sanding, burning, crushing and inscribing into these emblematic narratives. The reconciliation of the physical is literally the coin, the social is the deconstructed mint, and then the spiritual is my authorship and awareness as a citizen and artist.
The selected imagery is pooled from both circulation and uncirculated commemoratives. By altering the object’s depiction I’m distressing and destabilizing the context of the coin. This formula is pluralized in the American traditions of Potty Dollars, Laden Hearts, and Hobo Nickels. Although during the treatment I’m relating and inspired by the marring of Central American Olmec Heads, Congolese Nkisi Nkondi figures, and defacement of the Sphinx of Giza. By scaring the form it destabilizes the context present within figure.
I began this series in mid February 2017 with three quarters found on my studio desk and a Dremel tool. These works where aggressive reactions to the election of Donald Trump and the Congress becoming dominantly Republican. I think these earlier works could be viewed as vandalism before taking on a sort of agitprop function. In these three works I had sanded away all imagery from the quarter’s mint and text except for, God Trust, derived from the national motto “In God We Trust.” Immediately the juxtaposition of God and Trust invoked satire of a disillusioned power.
The motto “In God We Trust” I found that President Eisenhower branded “God” during his bid for re-election. He implemented “In God We Trust” to become the official national motto while also adding it to ALL US tender. Two months later he continues this alignment between his office and God by adding to the national pledge of allegiance “Under God.” By paralleling his office with this psychological authority he went on to his second term with Richard Nixon as Vice President.
The reliance of leadership is so often skewed by the legacy an individual chooses over the well being of their nation or another as seen in the case of warfare. The failings are veiled in many forms of propaganda. I attribute my negative reflections wether disapproval and satire to a wealth of historical malpractice as well as deceitful leadership. Thus the patriarchy and paternalism are organized to use the people for their own political security.
Once visualizing a modern timeline of US currency, a downward relationship appear in the composition of pennies, dimes, and quarters. In 1964 both quarters and dimes changed from silver to a combination of nickel and copper. Again in 1982 the composition of pennies polarized from 95% copper to 2.5% copper and 97.5% zinc the following year. Today the production of a nickel costs 11 cents and a penny costs three cents. In my life time I predict the discontinuation of US coin currency giving way to less physical forms of tender as well as a bankrupt United States. This relationship of value and alloys became a metaphor of the inflating national debt and the deflation of our national identity.
My interest with this medium is the transformative language a coin assumes in the hands of authorship. This landscape of us currency in American heritage plays out in idioms, advertisement, and rhetoric as well as past times. Idioms such as “a penny for you thoughts, heads up good luck, two pennies to rub together, nickel and dimming,” share a expressive
structuring that I’m sourcing as common hopelessness as well as playfulness when approaching each piece. This is when the works became less vandalism and more protest art.