Legal Tender

Exhibit Dates: 
Oct 19, 2013 - Feb 16, 2014
DuPont I Gallery

Curated by Maiza Hixson 

In her first solo exhibition at the Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts entitled 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. Winner of the People’s Choice Award for her textile-based, iconoclastic interpretation of Picasso’s Guernica (1937) from the DCCA’s 2011 MFA Biennial exhibition, Erb’s solo exhibition consists of new flag paintings depicting paper currency produced by the U.S. 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. 

- Maiza Hixson
Gretchen Hupfel Curator of Contemporary Art


Join us for a special gallery talk with the artist during the November 1st Art on the Town opening at 6:30 pm in the galleries.