I've been wanting to make a series of prints about money for a long time, maybe since 2007 when Lynn and I experienced something of a reversal of fortunes and decided to downscale our lives before life did it for us. My usual approach to art making, researching a topic until I feel I have enough understanding to begin, didn't work this time. I audited a class on the history of American economics which did nothing to inspire me, and my own ambivalent feelings about money also didn't help me. But I've finally found a way in to the topic, a way which is purely visual.
Great Wave, the wave design came from below and to the right of the pyramid motif. For this print I've worked with a tiny crop that includes the word "god" from the "in god we trust" motto at the top of the bill.
Carving on a 24" x 36" shina plywood block by Annie Bissett
The words "in god we trust" have appeared on American coins since 1864, but have been written on paper currency only since 1957, and the words are controversial, as are all things having to do with religion in the United States. As I worked with the image, at first all I could see was the cynical view that we in the U.S. actually worship not God but Money. Which is certainly true in many ways.
But then I began to think about all the ways that money perhaps is sacred: the trust we have in each other and in our economic system that is essential to its functioning, the hopes and dreams that we all hold and that money can help us attain, money as a symbol and exchange for honest labor, money offered to another out of a desire to help and serve.
This morning, when I pulled a couple of dollars out of my wallet at the post office to send my mother news clippings about flooding in her beloved home state of Vermont, that was love in the form of money.
These have been my thoughts as this print emerges. Today I'll be adding the bees I carved yesterday.
Woodblock print in progress by Annie Bissett