Political Works

The Obama White House


Piggy Bankers

My depiction of “The Great Recession Of 2008” is a document of events leading up to the Global Financial Crisis.
One side shows how Main Street was affected by the actions of the Big Banks, Insurance Companies and Wall Street. The other side shows how the dominos tumbled after the fall of Lehman Brothers on September 15, 2008. Perilously close to bringing down the entire financial system.

Crowned by the Piggy Banker who is unable to see beyond his own Golden Parachute, excessively enriching himself at the expense of all others.


Tulipomania

 

I was thinking about the build-up to America’s financial calamities during the past few years: the housing bubble, over-leveraging and the banking and credit crisis, etc. I recalled Allen Greenspan’s accurate assessment of the circumstances, calling those days a time of “irrational exuberance.” Being a romantic and a lover of history, I recalled reading “The Tulip” by Anna Pavord and “Tulipomania” by Mike Dash, about a historic time that was not unlike the present situation.

In the 17th century, the port town of Hoorn on the Zuider Zee in West Friesland in the Dutch Republic, a fascinating event occurred which sparked my imagination and inspired my sculpture, “Tulipomania/Irrational Exuberance.”” In 1633, during an unprecedented national obsession with the newly introduced Tulip flower from Asia, a bizarre transaction took place: an exchange of a house for three tulip bulbs(!), signaling the beginning of a 4-year period of craziness preceding the “great tulip crash of 1637.”

To provide a sense of the monetary values at that time I quote from “Tulipomania” by Mike Dash:
The basic unit of currency in the republic was the guilder. One guilder was made up of 20 stuivers.

20 stuivers = 1 guilder
1/2 stuiver = Cost of a tankard of beer
6 1/2 stuivers = Cost of a 12-pound loaf, 1620
8 stuivers = Daily wage of an experienced Haarlem bleacher, 1601
18 stuivers = Daily wage of an Amsterdam cloth-shearer, 1633
13 guilders = Exchange price of one Dutch ton of herring, 1636
60 guilders = Exchange price of 40 gallons of French brandy, 1636
250 guilders = Annual earnings of a carpenter, 1630s
750 guilders = Clusius’s salary at the University of Leiden, 1592
1,500 guilders = Typical earnings of a middle-ranking merchant, 1630s
1,600 guilders = Rembrandt’s fee for his greatest masterpiece, “The Night Watch,” 1642
3,000 guilders = Typical earning of a well-off merchant, 1630s
5,200 guilders = Highest reliably attested price paid for a tulip bulb, 1637

During this period, the Dutch Golden Age, contract prices for the tulip reached extraordinary heights and then suddenly collapsed, ruining many investors and involving the entire population from nobleman to servant, all of whom dabbled in tulips. This event is considered to be the first recorded speculative market bubble. In 1841, Charles Mackay wrote about the tulip mania in his book “Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds”” which started a modern discussion of the fickleness of financial markets.

One side of my sculpture depicts the exchanged house with itÕs three tulips carved in stone on the facade. The other side depicts a Dutch Golden Age interior with a feast and riches of the period including miniature Ming chargers. Both sides sandwich an 8-spouted tulip vase, the lid replicating a small Delft vase.

The top of the three bases represents the Zuider Zee and describes the story. The center base, a picture composed of miniature Dutch tiles, depicts the “Semper Augustus,” considered the most valuable tulip bulb. The entire piece is exalted by resting on a golden base.

My design process, intentionally extravagant and quirky, is consistent with the insanity of the occasion and mentality that inspired the idea.

-Mara Superior, Williamsburg, Massachusetts, August 2009


Bushwacked

Bushwacked is a time capsule of the 8 year George Bush presidency and the first in a series with themes involving politics, government, economics and ecological issues. The broken vessel and shards are metaphors symbolizing the havoc left in his wake. USA: a good thing in need of repairs.

 


Other Works

16″ dia., 2010

I haven’t seen a Cygnus Atratus /Black Swan since they live in Australia. Some economists described the Great Recession of 2008 as “A Black Swan Occurrence”, meaning a very rare confluence of events. It sounded much more romantic and intriguing than the actual event.”Smart Planet” is a visual plea for the world to regain its respect for Science and allow scientists, the modern alchemists to continue their efforts to salvage and regain the value of our resources that, hopefully, may restore that which we inhabitants have not yet destroyed.

“Mother Nature”, 2010, 17x21x2″, porcelain, wood, gold leaf.

Mother Nature is a pro-science admonition to those who would choose to ignore logic. A reminder of the delicate beauty and bounty at risk — for short term financial gain.

“Small Planet”

“Smart Planet” is a visual plea for the world to regain its respect for Science and allow scientists, the modern alchemists to continue their efforts to salvage and regain the value of our resources that, hopefully, may restore that which we inhabitants have not yet destroyed.