Scott Hopkins forwarded this CNN article on the work of money artist Mark Wagner of Lancaster, PA. Thanks. See below for links to
earlier E-Sylum articles on Wagner. -Editor
Money may well have made many a political career but one American artist has now forged his own success crafting politicians themselves
out of cold hard cash.
Meticulously handcrafted using small pieces of money -- mostly U.S. one dollar bills -- Mark Wagner's currency collages reconfigure
the familiar green and black paper into mythical creatures, fantastical garden scenes and US politicians past and present.
"The dollar bill is publicly valued, and I like making it privately valuable -- or to reflect how rich the person is that I'm
depicting." says Wagner. "A lot of American figures really are made by the U.S. currency."
Originally a printer and specialist book binder who has long dabbled in collage, Wagner first started cutting up dollar bills as
material for his art in 1999 after he went looking for the most "common" paper he could find to use for one particular piece.
He soon came to realize the versatility money gave him as a medium, as well as the possibilities to explore what money means to people
and the essential part it plays in everyone's life.
Although he uses other types of paper, money has now been Wagner's primary artistic medium for the last decade and a half, with its
texture and multifaceted designs translating well to his unique mosaic style.
"My favorite part -- it's so tiny -- Washington's right lapel. It doesn't mean anything, his right lapel is dark next
to a white line but if you get 1,000 of them and glue them together it makes a nice texture and I hadn't considered art like that
before," he explains.
Each collage is created using small pieces of deconstructed bills, carefully glued into place using a brush, and Wagner uses every
single part of the bill, whether it be for Abraham Lincoln's nose, Barack Obama's ears or for decorative framing around the
"Donald Trump's eyebrows, they're very leafy and those same leaves can become a hedge, and something like a hedge has a
metaphoric interest to me. It's a nice looking plant, but it also separates one neighbor from another neighbor," adds Wagner.
The artist doesn't normally track how many bills he uses to create a collage, but says he did do a full accounting of the money used
for one 17 foot tall collage he created of the Statue of Liberty -- which took 1,121 one dollar bills and 81,895 individual scraps of those
And although cutting up U.S. tender is technically illegal, Wagner says he has never had any problems with law enforcement.
The U.S. Federal Reserve itself recently acquired some of his now highly-collectible art while the National Portrait Gallery, which is
part of the Smithsonian Institution, once displayed a piece of his just three blocks from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
To read the complete article, see:
Art of the dollar: The political portraits crafted out
of cold hard cash (www.cnn.com/2016/07/04/arts/mark-wagner-currency-collage/index.html)
To read the earlier E-Sylum articles, see:
MARK WAGNER'S MONEY ART (www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v14n45a25.html)
SLATE ARTICLE ON MONEY ARTIST MARK WAGNER
MONEY ARTIST MARK WAGNER'S DOLLAR BILL COLLAGES
THE BOOK BAZARRE
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you know that the Mint has produced more than 150 other collectible works of silver and gold bullion since the national Bicentennial in
1976? Learn more in American Gold and Silver: U.S. Mint Collector and Investor Coins and Medals, Bicentennial to Date
for $29.95 at
, or call 1-800-546-2995.
Wayne Homren, Editor
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