The Pure Products of America Go Crazy

The pure products of America go crazy - William Carlos Williams, poet

Poet William Carlos Williams’ line “the pure products of America go crazy” truly captured the spirit we intended for our series of artworks and limited editions in 1992. 

It was an ideal title expressing the blurring lines between consumerism, morality and politics.

And as our series grew from bible belts to underwear to dish towels to postcard books, what had started out as an art project eventually grew to become, well, products.

We always asked ourselves, “What’s the next pink flamingo?” Little did we realize we were on that road.

We had always liked what happens when warm and fuzzy shares the bench with the offensive and downright obscene, like snow globes with sins and dirty words. 

What's the next pink flamingo?

The next flamingo
John Ashcroft New Yorker
John Ashcroft from "Snow Blind" The New Yorker, October 28, 2002

In 2001, The John Ashcroft snow globe was our very first with an ivory white resin bust submerged in water and snow and a windup music box that tinkled  “White Christmas.” It was about whiteness, Ashcroft’s efforts obstructing integration in Missouri.

Someone (Chris Christie to be exact)  gave Attorney General Ashcroft a globe as a gift. He liked it so much, the Justice Department wanted us to paint his official portrait. That was, until they found that our snow globe wasn’t much of a tribute  after reading Jake Tapper’s article for “The Talk of the Town” in The New Yorker magazine.  

But that didn’t stop us, we did his portrait anyway as a mug shot because of his support for the Patriot Act.

And that sparked an idea, since the Bush cabinet
betrayed the public’s trust in so many ways – why not do all of their portraits in mug shots?

We sold them as postcard books on the streets in Union Square during the RNC.

Attorney General John Ashcroft mug shot from Line Up

Then 2004 happened, or rather George W. Bush’s re-election happened. 

For us, that was one of the hardest. It was our dark blue period those days.

One evening later that fall at a concert, Nora intently, fiercely started drawing in a sketchbook on her lap inspired by the music. Suddenly she turned and looked up to say, “I’m going to make a Fuck snow globe.”

Sure, enough, channeling the election aftermath Nora based the typography of the Fuck snow globe on the 2004 Bush/Cheney campaign lettering.

Thinking of the Bush cabinet as criminals was pretty bold in 2004. The printers feared retribution after all they did print the official 9/11 Memorial Calendar.  After two more printings, they were solidly beside us, public opinion had shifted so fast.

The first 300 were made by hand, all signed by us and numbered under the base.

FUCK snow globe

A few months after that, we started hand-casting and assembling the F**K snow globe right in our Brooklyn Navy Yard studio.

And then we scaled up in 2009 expanding our production. This year we celebrate 10,000 F**K snow globes! In the homes and offices of all over the globe!

Fuck snow globe checkin
Deadly Sins 1-7 snow globes

There are other globes, too. In 2009 in the throes of the Bernie Madoff scandal, we created a Greed snow globe.

It was one of the most beautiful things I had seen. The word Greed has flakes of gold leaf embedded in the resin cast of the word like ember nuggets of honey embedded in gold.

I immediately asked, “Why make one sin? Let’s make all 7 Deadly Sins! They belong together.

And as artist residents at Eyebeam Center for Art and Technology in Chelsea, NYC, we learned to use a laser cutter, stylizing words with Bezier points and curves instead of hand modeling in clay. We designed the word on a computer. We cut the master on a laser cutter, made silicon molds, and then handcast our sins. 

Deadly Sins 1-7 was an open edition and a special, lettered edition (A-Z). 

And even though the chapter is presently closed on the Deadly Sins, for now at least, we’ve gone on to The History of Art snow globes with Artware Editions – 20 modern and contemporary art movements.

We also design and make custom globes for organizations and individual clients. Clients include: Noguchi Museum, Visual AIDS, Hope Smith, NCAC.

Deadly Sins 1-7 snow globe

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