A New Deal, Art and Currency highlights relationships between American presidents and the economy, while observing how these relationships affect art-making. This exhibition takes its name from the social and economic reforms implemented by Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the 1930s. For better or worse, each president affects the course and stability of the economy, and likewise, the changing economy affects the stability and reputation of each president.
Artists in this exhibition play within the space of literal and imagined artifacts of currency and alternative methods of exchange to push social protest and reconsider material value. The participating artists deal with manipulating and erasing, recreating and exchanging, collecting and commemorating, all to address these intrinsic relationships.
Some artists take the stance of philanthropic entrepreneurs who devise new economic systems. The Fundred Dollar Bill Project spearheaded by artist/activist Mel Chin, for example, involves communities in the creation of one hundred dollar bills that will ultimately be used as a tool to advocate for the building of New Orleans. Fundreds created by fifth grade students at PS 119, The Magnet School for Global and Ethical Studies participating in BRIC Rotunda’s in-school Education Program will be included. In the Neutral Capital Collection, Peter Simensky alters currency from failed world economies to barter for contemporary art works. Artist/entrepreneur Adam Simon, founder of the Fine Art Adoption Network, developed a process for the money-less acquisition of works of art. David Greg Harth collects currency upon which he prints social messages that are read once the money is placed back into circulation.
Other artists such as Mark Wagner and Jesús Jiménez depict currency that has been cut, stacked, or collaged, thus exposing a new aesthetic form. Jon Kessler combines these techniques with shredded pieces of currency and memorialized images of celebrity faces. Artists in A New Deal also focus on the acknowledgement and celebration of our historical past. Jonathan Herder uses stamps to display presidential timelines and storytelling. Anais Daly constructs a replica of Abraham Lincoln’s mausoleum out of scrabble pieces, while Anissa Mack pays tribute to Susan B. Anthony with a commemorative necklace, entitled, Failure is Impossible.