Robert Wechsler is known for taking everyday objects – things we are used to experiencing in a standard fashion – and flipping that experience on its head. Take the common copper penny for example. Wechsler recently created a series of three sculptures made entirely out of the ubiquitous little coin, and yet the result is something you would never expect.
By precisely notching the sides of the coins and stacking them into a lattice like grid, he has created large cubes which appear almost ethereal – at once solid and simultaneously transparent in appearance. As one walks around his cubes, collectively called The Mendicants, they seem to shimmer, briefly allowing views through their densely packed interiors.
Each of the sculptures is named after the number of pennies which were used in its construction. The Mendicant 26,982 includes coins from all years featuring the Lincoln Memorial (1959 – 2008), The Mendicant 3,672 uses pennies used before the shift from copper to zinc production (1959 – 1982), and The Mendicant 540 was made using pennies retrieved from a wishing well (which contributed to its unique finish).
What is the meaning behind the word Mendicant? Wechsler explains the humble meaning, which seems fitting for the prolific yet low value coin:
“Mendicant is a term for one who has no possessions, is supported by the goodwill of others, and relies exclusively on charity to survive. Typically a position assumed after living a productive life and attending to all worldly concerns, a Mendicant is considered honorable. To be a Mendicant is to make a conscious choice to sacrifice conventional concerns in favor of humility, modesty and enlightenment.”