Philly Artist Emily Erb’s Take on Currency Via “Legal Tender” at the Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts

PLUS: UD’s Resident Ensemble Players perform “The Servant of Two Masters” and Music of on the Brandywine from Juilliard graduate and Wayne Barlow Prize winner Caroline Cole.


Emily Erb, Legal Tender, 2013. Dye on silk, Installation detail

Just Give Us Money

If you view cash as mere currency, a visit to the DCCA may reveal new perspectives. “In her first solo exhibition at the Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts, ‘Legal Tender,’ Philadelphia-based artist Emily Erb employs the ancient Indian technique of silk painting to reflect a global perspective on the history of American money,” says curator Maiza Hixson. Twelve larger-than-life sized panels depicting U.S. bills hang from the gallery walls. Winner of the People’s Choice Award for her textile-based, interpretation of Picasso’s Guernica from the DCCA’s 2011 MFA Biennial exhibition, Erb’s solo exhibition consists of new flag paintings depicting paper currency produced by the United States between 1862 and the present. “In 2012, concurrent with the Occupy Movement’s protests against Wall Street, Erb began to examine the subject of money through her painting practice. Pulling a dollar out of her pocket and photocopying the front and back at 18 times its original size, the artist then layered silk fabric over the enlarged photocopy and trace-painted the two sides of the giant bill. The result was an enlarged replica that the artist hung like a flag in various public spaces throughout Philadelphia. In her latest series of oversized silk bills, Erb ironically offers up representations of metaphorically counterfeit money as a luxurious creative medium of exchange in silk paintings installed from flagpoles in the DuPont I Gallery. The term “legal tender” is of Middle English and French origins and means to offer. Conflating American currency with patriotic symbols of national identity, the artist initiates a dialogue on what constitutes our collective value system in the wake of the subprime mortgage crisis and recent financial industry collapse.” Erb’s installation will be on view through February 16.

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