Money Is People?


  The pictures above and below were painted by Xiaoze Xie specifically for the lobby of the United States Courthouse in downtown Davenport, Iowa.  They are typical of his style, subject matter, and scale – these each being a whopping 72” x 103”!

  Xie says: “I see books as a material form of something abstract, such as philosophy and ideology.  I have also been fascinated by what people do to books: banning, destroying, glorifying with gold-leaf, or worshiping as ultimate truth.”

  The shelves in the one above, The Spirit of Law, hold volumes by Montesquieu, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Thomas Paine, Alexander Hamilton, and William Blackburn.  The books below, Iowa Reports, are nineteenth century Iowa Supreme Court Reports from the library of the US District Court for the Southern District of Iowa.

  Xiaoze Xie was born in Guangdong China in 1966.  He was educated in China and the USA and is currently a professor at Stanford.  His pictures are held in permanent collections of prominent institutions such as the Museum of Fine Arts Houston and have been in exhibitions all over the globe.

  The Spirit of Law and Iowa Reports convey a deep reverence for both the material and abstract.  What perfect pieces for between which a jury to assemble!  This sense is, I think, largely absent online and on tablet.  I’ll bet a goodly portion of the consideration of opinions like, say, Citizens United was conducted digitally.

  Money is people?  What?  I’m so sure.  Well, if money is people, they better not send any more to Texas.  They have the death penalty down there and aren’t shy about using it.* Either way the election goes, for distinctly different reasons on the different sides, Ben Franklin’s head will roll many times over between November 6 and the anniversary of Scrooge’s perambulatory revelation that people and money are quite different.

*This paraphrases a comment made by Bill Moyers.

**Go see the paintings, they’re yours!  The guards evince pride, but are serious.  NB: There’s a metal detector and phones and cameras are not allowed.

***On a plaque just inside are the words of one of America’s first starchitects Cass Gilbert (Woolworth Building…): “Public buildings should encourage just pride in the state, and be an education to oncoming generations to see these things, imponderable elements of life and character, set before the people for their enjoyment and betterment.” 

****  This link will take you to his Stanford bio and statement.


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