The CBS News show Sunday Morning devoted today's program to money. I caught a segment on Lancaster-based artist Mark Wagner and his interesting money collages made from dollar bills. It was a nicely done interview. I don't believe the video is available online yet, but there's a nice photo gallery on the show's web site. Here are excerpts.
"Fit for a King"
Collage artist Mark Wagner had no idea where it would go when he first cut up a dollar bill 15 years ago. But he couldn't stop making things out of money. His collages are assembled entirely from one dollar bills -- and can fetch tens of thousands of dollars.
Wagner's work asks us to reconsider this piece of paper we value so much. His epic piece "Liberty" is 17 feet tall, made from nearly 82,000 bill fragments.
The 42-year-old artist, who works out of his home in Lancaster, Pa., is a magician with an X-Acto knife and glue.
He dissects dollars like in an autopsy, separating elements such as faces, signatures and numbers. Heads, for example, go in a Heads box.
"Is it expensive to work with money?" asked CBS News correspondent Anthony Mason.
"It's not," replied Wagner. "The bills aren't the expensive part of the operation. It's the time -- that's the expensive part."
In Wagner's world, Washington becomes Everyman ... and all the faces in the crowd.
"If I ever want an image of someone doing something, it's always George Washington," said Wagner. "He sort of stands in for everyone."
"That's one of the ironies of the work," he told Mason. "People are so familiar with this object. They have their hands on it on a daily basis. And no one is really aware of what it looks like."
The very act of cutting up a dollar bill raises the question of what it's worth. Mark Wagner's art is a conversation about the nature of money and American identity:
"I'm not making posters. I'm not making protest signs. You know, art happens in two places: Art happens in my brain when I'm making these things, and then in the viewer's brain, when they're looking at them. I'm interested in what everyone brings to the table."
To see the complete photo gallery, see:
Made of money
To visit Mark Wagner's web site, see:
Wayne Homren, Editor
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