Reed Estabrook

Photographer and Educator

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In God We Trust, 2001

  • $1-1929
  • $2-1929
  • $5-1929
  • $5-1993
  • $10-1929
  • $10-1993
  • $20-1929
  • $20-1995
  • $50-1929
  • $50-1990
  • $100-1929
  • $100-1993


It seems ironic that the very currency that has so distorted our democratic processes bears upon it images of those same institutions that it has subverted. The body of work entitled "In God We Trust" makes dark comment upon this fundamental power relationship that so dominants twenty-first century American culture. While this critique is intended to be considerably broader and more ironic than the relatively clear issues centered upon campaign finance reform, I like to think that Senator John McCain would appreciate this work.

About the works

There are thirteen bills in circulation at this time, each portraying an American statesman coupled with a piece of architecture, usually Federal, on the verso. There is a single version of the one-dollar bill plus old and new styles of the $2, $5, $10, $20, $50 & $100 bills. With the new edition, with one exception,* what is imaged on each side of the bill has remained the same. Style and human perspective vary considerably between the two vintages, however.

There are, at this point thirteen pieces in the body of work entitled "In God We Trust". The works are created by photographing models, which are made in reference o the thirteen different bills. Each model is made from about 5 lb. of low-fire white clay formed into a tablet and carved into relief. The clay is dried and distressed with force and water. The clay tables are not fired.

The 1928 issue of the $2.00 bill bore an image of Monticello, Jefferson's home. An imaged based upon a painting of the signing of the Declaration of Independence adorns the later version.

© 2012 Reed Estabrook; Oakland, California.. All rights reserved.
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