the North Side, a part of town which has been economically stripped); yet while riding the blue line (which heads to the affluent part of town), many would be in transit for nearly two hours to work in a prosperous environment but not to live. As developers build their empires with renovations to downtown and parts of St. Louis where people of African descent have been driven out, homeless individuals and those in shaky financial situations are moved like pawns to be out of sight and mind. As select groups are deleted from the city's vision only to be replaced by baseball and posh riverfronts, Red Line/Blue Line is merely an infection in a great American wound.
mously donate unlimited sums of money to elect the officials that will sympathize with their desires to be more profitable at the expense of the working-class creating an ever-widening gap of income inequality. The working-class mother and father, drawn from the perspective of their children that don't understand the Political Party, are buried under symbols of decadence, their voices drowned out by money and power. We use our power to vote for the man who hides his true intentions under a smile... and the Political Party continues.
Zack Smithey describes the message behind his Political Party: State of the Union series.
Kiarra Lynn Smith Red Line – Blue Line (courtesy of the artist)
Kiarra Lynn Smith describes her painting Red Line/Blue Line. Red Line/Blue Line is a piece inspired by the work of Aboriginal artist Robert Campbell Jr., whose paintings portrayed the racial divisions in his home continent, Australia. This piece reflects the economic divide between classes and races in the city of St. Louis. Often while riding the train, I noticed that a majority of people of African descent would exit the train on the Red Line (which heads to
In art, symbolism is often subtle or hidden. It's something that the audience has to search for and decipher in order understand the underlying theme. In Political Party, I wanted to be blunt with the symbolism. Actually, every element in the piece is a symbol. The composition uses formal balance symbolizing power, stability and strength. Both the layout and the green/gold color scheme emulate printed money, which uses formal balance for the same reason. The golden ornamental design and tokens represent luxurious self-indulgence. The politician sits on his thrown while the constitution on toilet paper goes down the drain. With the passing of Citizens United and creation of Super PACs, corporations and wealthy individuals can anony-
Political Party: State of the Union series (courtesy of the artist and Miss Aimee B’s Tea Room & Gallery)
ECONOMY AS ART Sarah Hermes Griesbach
In Gallery 208 of the Saint Louis Art Museum sits a small but mighty coin. It is a 1.9 cm gold Byzantine “Solidus” minted under Emperor Justinian II in the 7th Century. The value of this object obviously lies in its age and its provenance (where it comes from). Added historical value comes from the images depicted on either side. The bearded Pantokrator (Ruler of All) featured is not the Roman God Jupiter previously found on regional currency, but a Christ figure. On the reverse side, a smaller emperor Justinian is noted as “servant of Christ.” Remember, you will find this coin in an internationally renowned ART museum. What makes this object art? Not every artifact is also art, but cultural production that tells important stories of our lives, such as this first known coin to feature Jesus Christ, is significant beyond mere recordkeeping. Money is not just a useful convention to exchange goods. It is a means of expression. What is important to us? What do we value? The answer is not just what we spend our money on but also what we put on our money. This is obvious to the masses of people who are currently campaigning to put a new face on the $20 bill to replace Andrew Jackson. The effort has resonated with many, while sparking interesting new conversations around who and what we value.
First, the – “Who should be removed?” discussion began with a seemingly unanimous outpouring of interest in removing the president most famous for his participation in our Native American genocide, Andrew Jackson. Then, the -“Who should we replace him with?” part of the debate became interesting as the prospect of a gloriously strong black female leader such as Sojourner Truth hit against anti-capitalist sentiment. Truth admirers suggested she would not consider the placement an honor. After all, Sojourner Truth’s efforts to free her people in America are not reflected in the economic disparity of our country today. Leave it to artists to dissect the role of money in our lives so thoroughly that they end up inventing something new. Artists are often the first to consider alternative economic structures – cooperative work/live/teach situations, barter deals and mutual credit systems through which help leads to help. St. Louis boasts an organization on the cutting edge of compensation. The Cowry Collective is a “unique timebank.” The name reflects the ancient practice of exchanging cowry shells as currency. The Cowry Collective timebank functions as an alternative economy. It is a network of people engaged in reciprocal exchanges of services, skills and goods. One hour equals one cowry. COMMUNITY VOICES
In St. Louis, numismatists (people who study currency) can visit the Newman Money Museum in the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum at Washington University. The currency collection comes from the collection of Eric Newman and his late wife, Evelyn Newman. Evelyn died this past September after a remarkable lifetime of adventure and the kind of philanthropy that results in life change (most notably through her founding of the ScholarShop). After visiting the Newman’s currency collection, the true money enthusiast can go downtown to visit our own Economy Museum inside the Federal Reserve Bank at the corner of Broadway and Locust. There you can buy umbrellas and magnets just like in the gift shop of any other cultural object museum/business. The (free) shredded money souvenir is like Felix Gonzalez-Torres “Untitled” Portrait of Ross in L.A. in that you take small items away from the experience, but then, not like that at all.
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