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Real Change full nickel.jpg

Real Change (2022)

27" x 10" x 4"

Steel, glass coin bank jar, empty soda can, paper, dime, nickel, magnets, string, label, glue

Two incompatible registers are weighed against each other in value: one points to coins received when an empty can is returned for its deposit, and the other points to coins placed in a jar to reward a child's good behavior.


A white American social worker suggested to my mother that she reward me for good behavior by putting change (coins) in a jar rather than hit to punish me; I remember thinking this woman was not culturally capable of understanding that my immigrant family was not the kind to waste what we earned from collecting cans on the street on children.

(Pictured is the first apartment building we lived in in the 1980s when we immigrated to the U.S. Also pictured is me in an elementary school play in the 1980s, where each student was a letter in the English alphabet, referencing my acculturation or assimilation process.) 

Detail views (click to enlarge):

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