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The E-Sylum: Volume 14, Number 7, February 13, 2011, Article 21

MICHIGAN MOM'S GIANT PENNY: IS IT ART?

Leon Saryan forwarded this article about a giant penny created by a Michigan woman. Neat - Thanks! -Editor

Making the Giant Penny Make a penny, leave a penny.

That's how one cash-strapped Michigan woman obtained the 84,000 pennies she used to construct a gigantic replica of a 1-cent coin, which won her artistic acclaim and allowed her to share her inspirational story.

Wander Martich says she only started building her massive coin after she was forced to pinch pennies when she went through a divorce, lost her home to foreclosure and lost her job in 2006.

That's when Martich's daughters -- ages 6 and 9 -- gave their mom the loose change they had been saving in their piggy bank.

Martich put her kids' pennies in an empty water jug, which she continued filling with $20 of pennies from each paycheck after she found a job.

Last year, the Grand Rapids, Mich., resident decided to use those pennies to make some real change.

"Art was the only way I could tell a mass of people my story," Martich said in a statement through Ripley's Believe It or Not, which acquired her huge coin. "I wanted to share the message that anyone can do this, you just have to start somewhere. What matters isn't how much you make, but how much you save."

Eventually, she turned to a bank to get coins straight from the U.S. Mint.

Giant Penny "I needed very shiny pennies to create the highlights," she said. "I wanted to use the different natural shades of pennies to create the image."

After working more than 10 hours a day for three months, Martich entered the work -- titled "Helping Mom One Penny at a Time" -- into the ArtPrize contest in Grand Rapids, where it placed sixth and caught the eye of Edward Meyer, Ripley's vice president of exhibits and archives.

To read the complete article, see: It Took 84,000 Pennies, But Mom's Giant Coin Really Makes Cents (www.aolnews.com/2011/02/10/it-took-84-000-pennies
-but-michigan-moms-giant-coin-really-mak/)



Dick Johnson adds these thoughts about the article:

A lady in Grand Rapids, Michigan, has glued 84,000 Lincoln cents to a giant 10-foot replica of the reverse of the current Lincoln cent. She calls herself an artist. But this mosaic is neither art, nor is she the artist. Frank Gasparro, of course, was the artist of this coin design.

Methinks the lady had too much time on her hands. The news story relates how she became divorced, lost her job and her home foreclosed. Perhaps gluing cents on a 10-foot wooden frame is therapeutic, but art it is not.

"I needed very shiny pennies to create the highlights," she stated in the article. "I wanted to use the different natural shades of pennies to create the image."

After working more than 10 hours a day for three months, Wander Martich titled the work "Helping Mom One Penny at a Time." She had enlisted the help of two daughters.

Pasting coins on some surface is not original. Silver dollars have been affixed to bar room floors over century ago. A mosaic of Lincoln's portrait appeared recently in Chicago. And restaurants have displayed such coin motifs before. Most interesting is the California gentleman who completely covered his auto with attached cents. Trouble was the total number of the coins dove up the weight of the car and drove down the mileage he got from a gallon of gas.

The coins in your pocket or in your possession are your property. You can do with them what you wish. This is not, however, their intended purpose of a circulating medium. I guess it is fruitless though, to plead for someone with no artistic talent to paste them on something. But whatever you paste up, don't call it art.

What do readers think? I'll have to disagree with Dick on this one. Art is in the eye of the maker as well as the beholder, and I see no reason why the maker and buyer of the work can't call it art if they choose to. It's their time and money that went into it. Who’s the artist behind Andy Warhol's monumental masterpiece, "200 One Dollar Bills"? Warhol's work is certainly derivative, but he made it into something new. Wander Martich was inspired by her daughters' pluck and generosity. It may be folk art, but I think it's art nonetheless. -Editor


Wayne Homren, Editor

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