Nickle Picks: Marina Fischer, Numismatic Specialist, Nickle Galleries
Money. When we think of money our thoughts wander off to the endless bills and payments, but what we often consciously overlook though, is money’s deep connection with our memories, cultures and identities. So, when it comes to an artistic exploration of those issues, Kari Woo’s Mary is a true gem, full of clues and puzzles. When I first encountered it, Woo’s use of a Canadian 50 cent coin as a key to her examination of cultural connections and identities struck me as very insightful, ingenious and unexpected. To a numismatist and art historian, Mary is a perfect personal and professional vision. The rare and non-circulating, yet still valid, 50 cent piece is uniquely appropriate thanks to its Canadian Coat of Arms on the reverse, which beautifully complements the row of traditional Chinese lucky-money red envelopes. For someone who grew up outside Canada, this is a powerful play of symbols and a mighty statement that can easily relate to my own dual cultural identity. It’s a trigger like that song at your wedding or the one-hit wonder that played over and over during your teen summer of love. These cultural symbols embody that duality, personify that identity, and transport you instantly to the long-forgotten memories that made who you are today.