Funny Money by Josh Usmani

Curator’s Statement

Josh Usmani creates beautiful works by embellishing and “improving” U.S. and foreign currency.  His approach is a painterly one in that he reacts to what is already there.  His jewel-like illustrations beckon the viewer to study these miniscule works looking for details.  These art pieces are created with a conglomeration of graffiti, cartoon, calligraphy, illustration, and doodles all on paper currency, creating intimate gems.

Ironically, currency alone holds value that is assigned to it by our society, but Josh adds a value that exceeds the monetary amount through the process of transforming it into art.  He actually denounces its assigned buying power and yet brings it to a higher value through beauty and the viewer’s delight.

Artist Statement

Josh Usmani is a 29-year-old, Cleveland-based artist, writer, curator and instructor.  Since 2008, his work has been exhibited at venues such as 78th Street Studios, Case Western Reserve University, Ursuline College, IngenuityFest, SPACES, The Galleries at Cleveland State, Waterloo Arts, Gallery One Sixty, Sandusky Cultural Center, Breakneck Gallery, Pittsburgh’s Most Wanted Gallery and many more.
Josh graduated from Cleveland State University with a degree in Painting in 2013.  He writes weekly feature articles about local and regional art events and news for Cool Cleveland (http://CoolCleveland.com/).  He also teaches kids’ Cartooning classes around town – including at Cleveland Institute of Art – where he recently appeared as part of a “Lunch on Fridays” panel of regional art writers.  His next Cartooning 101 course at CIA starts July 28th!  See their website or call for more info.
Funny Money was an exhibition of drawn-on currency last December at Naji, Naji and Tekler at 78th Street Studios.  The show was a tongue-in-cheek “CeLeBraTiOn” of the 100-year anniversary of the Federal Reserve Act, and featured over 30 works on “real” US and international money.  Many of the bills are now in private collections, but about a dozen are still available. Josh also takes commissions – please contact him at Josh.Usmani@gmail.com for more info.
Please find him on Facebook for more info on upcoming events and many more images of his various projects.
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