Lee Haner discusses his currency collages, on view through Dec. 23 at Jack Rasmussen Gallery, 313 G St. NW.
I had a couple of silver dollars my grandparents gave me and I had to sell them to pay the rent. I'm an artist, so I have trouble paying the rent. When I was leaving the coin store, I saw a display of fractional currency used during the Civil War--metal was scarce. I went back a week later and bought the cheapest note, a 50-cent bill with a picture of George Washington on it. It's been an obsession ever since.
My show will be the opening of a campaign to do away with coins and return to fractional currency. The money saved in metal will more than pay for the changeover. And every five years a new artist could design the currency, thus supporting artists. I chose space and genetics as the themes for the five- and 10-cent notes, John Lennon with a picture of the gun that shot him on the back for the 15-cent note. The 25-cent note is a collage that celebrates the Post-Modern Era. Reagan is on TV in front of a French nuclear blast. You decide if he's waving goodbye or hello. My 50-cent note shows nudes celebrating equality. A book of my new currency, $1.05 face value, costs only $250.