November 10th - December 4th, 2022
Opening Reception : 6-8pm, Thursday, November 10th
Another day, another dollar
What is a dollar worth today? What would you buy if you had but one dollar to your name? Even the dollar store doesn’t carry only things that cost a dollar. The one-dollar bill is the lowest and the humblest denomination. But it is also the foundational denomination, the single unit to which all the others break down.
Kota Okuda examines the one-dollar bill in minute detail in his work. He blows it up, prods and pokes at it, reconfigures and recontextualizes it. The symbolic value of currency—these pieces of paper that occupy our minds and lives—fascinates Okuda, and it always has.
The one-dollar bill represents near misses (“a day late and a dollar short”), reliability and steadfastness (“as sound as a dollar”), value in not just monetary but metaphorical terms (“bang for your buck”), desperation (“anything for a dollar”), and even holiness—though usually ironically (“the almighty dollar”). It is a potent, charged, malleable symbol, and perhaps more than anything else it represents cold, hard reality at its basest (“the buck stops here”).
In Okuda’s treatment of the one-dollar bill, in his manipulation of the many elements that comprise it, we are forced to reconsider our preconceived notions about money and its power—as well as its aesthetics. Okuda not only draws out questions regarding economics; he also plays with the pure, arcane, Masonic beauty of the dollar. From its portrait of America’s favorite founding father, to its ominous Latin texts, to the uncanny spookiness of the all-seeing eye and the dense webbing of the bill’s background, Okuda manipulates the familiar until it becomes new again. If only the global value of the dollar itself could be so manipulated.
Okuda’s work in this exhibition is also about the elusive nature of causality. How can one small change—and, for most of us, a dollar is merely that: change—impact the world at large? How can the whispering of a butterfly’s wings lead to a gust of wind on the other side of the world?
There are almost 13 billion one-dollar bills in circulation today. That’s almost 13 billion last chances and fresh starts. 13 billion pairs of butterfly wings that, with one small flap, can echo in both creative and destructive ways.
Kota Okuda studied Jewelry Design at Central Saint Martins in London. He received his MFA in Fashion Design and Society at the Parsons School of Design. Okuda made his New York Fashion Week debut in A/W 2018, and his following show became a trending topic during New York Fashion Week S/S 2019. His work has appeared in Paper, Office, Novembre, Notion, and Schon! magazines and the New York Post.
Okuda’s fundamental creative focus is on combining traditional handcraft processes with emergent digital technologies such as 3D modeling and printing. Okuda’s self-stated mission is to expand the imagination and possibility of jewelry design. A significant focus of Okuda’s design process lies in considering how a piece of jewelry might interact with the human body. At the same time, he explores the various possibilities of the relationship between jewelry and fashion.
This hybridization of fine art, fashion, and applied craft fascinates Okuda, whose work
addresses concerns of significance, purpose, value, materiality, scale, and perfor-
mance. Okuda takes great pleasure in investigating the history and context behind
contemporary jewelry, art, and fashion. His aesthetic, while deeply of-the-moment with
its accessible sense of humor, also contains classical and antique elements.