Connections between the mind, the state of things and currency (what we value and exchange) are explored in the site specific installation The Currency of an Altered State at the Hunterdon Museum of Art.
A former stone mill, the museum sits on a branch of the Raritan River. Various effigies of past economies exist in the immediate surroundings including a Victorian tressle bridge, a second mill on the other side of a shallow waterfall, and a quarry seen from gallery's windows. Currently, a canoe rental also flanks the museum on one side; the red fiberglass iterations of a traditional Native American mode of transportation have taken on a recreational value in present times.
Several hundred altered dollar bills were arranged on the museum's walls in a pattern that suggests a flow chart, circulation or a river current. Created over years, the altered paper currency also form a kind of timeline, highlighting personal moments as well as politicial and economic subjects and events. A full-sized canoe covered in beads "floats" across the River Gallery as a quasi-totemic object, alluding to the space of the exhibition as originally native land.
By altering these simple objects, both canoe and dollar bills are allowed to teeter between utilitarian, gift, monetary, ceremonial, trade, and art currencies. Both distinctly American icons, the dollar bill and the canoe are historical vestiges whose meaning and currency are nevertheless constantly in flux. This regeneration is part of the American mythology of adaptability and innovation as much as it highlights the volatility and fragility of cultures and their currencies.