Friday, August 4, 2017 at 8:40 a.m.
It starts with pennies — about 100,000 of them, to be precise.
Downtown Los Angeles–based artist S.C. Mero has an infatuation with the lowest form of American currency. In the streets surrounding her Skid Row studio, even homeless people decline to pick them up.
The penny pincher may be one of the last people to see intrinsic value in lone cents. She collects the coins and treats them with high heat, various scouring methods and a dying process to create individual tiles in larger mosaics of dark Americana.
With her customary razor-sharp irony, S.C. Mero has affixed thousands of pennies to surfaces to create renderings of the Lincoln assassination and a grim portrait of a suicidal Uncle Sam striking his best Budd Dwyer pose.
Mero is keenly aware of the medium in which she works. A sign over her door reads “Alchemist at Work.” Like her medieval predecessors, she deals in transformation. Materially, she renders unlikely items into things of value. Philosophically, S.C. Mero is intimately involved with the transmutation of the unwanted into vessels for creativity.
“If it’s possible to turn a penny into art,” she says, “it’s possible for anything [to become art].”
Mero uses thousands of pennies to create works like this one.
Courtesy S.C. Mero
S.C. Mero has built a name for herself by translating her penny wisdom into a dialogue with the landscape of downtown Los Angeles itself.
She favors disused public spaces on and around the boundary between downtown’s Skid Row and the Historic Core. Here, inattention and poor civic custodianship create dystopian…
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