Mediums of Exchange is a two-part exhibition and the first collaboration between two of the largest exhibition spaces in the City University of New York’s network of galleries. The project is co-curated by Bartholomew F. Bland, Director, Lehman College Art Gallery, and Lisa Panzera, Director, Shirley Fiterman Art Center.
For centuries artists depicted the acquiring of money as a morality tale –the source of many evils as well as a desirable goal. ln the decade since the financial meltdown of 2008, artists work to transform an uncertain economy into artworks of visual significance. Mediums of Exchange presents more than 30 contemporary artists who appropriate and contextualize money, using currency as a material in their work, or taking a conceptual approach to the global economic system. Exploring the ever changing forms and uses of currency, they engage in sociological, psychological, and economic approaches that raise new questions about the role of money in today’s global societies. Andy Warhol is the historical reference point for the artists in this exhibition. Few artists have made money their overt subject and interest as openly as Warhol, who made frequently spoke about his fascination with the dollar, the symbol that was a recurring and instantly recognizable motif in his work.
Mediums of Exchange looks at currency itself, its recognizable but rapidly disappearing physical motifs on paper and coins, the newest digital transfers represented by bitcoin, and the visual status symbols of luxury products that mark wealth and desire.The show also examines the pressing financial issues of today– identify theft, suspicion of banks, and the tensions between the powerful but fading idea of the American Dream, increasingly out of reach for the middle class, and the complex reality of the “winner takes it all” of modern economic systems.
The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated 120-page catalog published by CUNY with essays by Bland, Panzera, and Georgette Gouveia, former Gannett lnc. senior cultural writer and current editor of WAG magazine.