What is it about American dollars and art? First we have jewellery made out of it, then we get origami and now it's Mark Wagner's collages and reinterpretation of everyday objects -- in this case a broom.
For all of these artists, the goal is turning money into an art form -- which is an interesting twist, given that the art market is all about money.Mark Wagner says that "the one dollar bill is the most ubiquitous piece of paper in America." His collages, meticulously created, are examining what else can be done with the almighty dollar.
He likes using the bills because they are made of such good material: sturdy linen stock, strong colours, nice decorations and lots of symbolism.
In his work the bills are transformed into pictures of people, plants, scenes, faces and the Statue of Liberty. By using glue and a sharp blade, he can reproduce the effects of tapestry, painting, mosaics and engravings. He turns the familiar into something foreign, and vice versa.
He says that he has a "tendency toward meticulous production and solid graphic presentation. Usually fantastical, occasional surreal, and often interdisciplinary -- I am satisfied only when concept and craft meet on equally firm footing."
Whether it be George Washington, the Statue of Liberty, or the famous American Gothic, these images make us question the cultural, social, political and symbolic roles that money plays in our society. What a fitting thought for a year occupied by Wall Street and for the coming week of rampant consumerism before Christmas.