"A portrait is a picture in which there is just a tiny little something not quite right about the mouth." -- John Singer Sargent

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Ursa Major

This 14 foot statue of a grizzley bear made of over 170,000 Canadian and US  pennies, steel, styrofoam and concrete stands, temporarily,  on 19th Street between I and K Streets in Washington, DC. It was created in 2016 by Robert and  Lisa Ferguson. It belongs to the collection of Judy and  Steven Gluckstern.


This work is displayed as part of the "NoSpectators - Beyond the Renwick" exhibit of the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian  American Art Museum.

“Mr. and Mrs. Ferguson met on a dance floor at Burning Man in 2008 and fell in love. Though she lived in Canada and he in the U.S., they began a long-distance romance and artistic collaboration, inspired by the DIY, can-do attitude fundamental to Burning Man. The couple was married at Burning Man in 2011. and Lisa moved to California in 2013.

In their working relationship, Lisa, a filmmaker, develops a concept for a piece while Robert, a welder, determines how to execute it. Their work with pennies began in 2013 as the Canadian government began phasing out the coin. The durability and metaphor of the penny appealed to Lisa, as did its metaphorical connection to her journey, so she designed Penny the Goose, a Canada goose made of Canadian and U.S. coins. The Fergusons, with the help of friends, went on to create the much larger, penny-covered grizzly bears Ursa Major (2016) and Ursa Mater (2017). Ursa Major integrates 170,000 pennies and takes its name from the constellation, inviting those standing below the sculpture to look up at the night sky. The tactility, whimsicality, and absurdity of these painstakingly constructed sculptures have inspired a sense of awe and delight in Burning Man attendees of all ages.”


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