Collage artist Mark Wagner had no idea where it would go when he first cut up a dollar bill 15 years ago. But he couldn't stop making things out of money. His collages are assembled entirely from one dollar bills -- and can fetch tens of thousands of dollars.
Left: Detail from "Fit for a King."
Wagner's work asks us to reconsider this piece of paper we value so much. His epic piece "Liberty" (detailed at left) is 17 feet tall, made from nearly 82,000 bill fragments.
Detail from Mark Wagner's "Liberty."
An installation view of Mark Wagner's 17-foot-tall "Liberty."
The 42-year-old artist, who works out of his home in Lancaster, Pa., is a magician with an X-Acto knife and glue.
He dissects dollars like in an autopsy, separating elements such as faces, signatures and numbers. Heads, for example, go in a Heads box.
"Is it expensive to work with money?" asked CBS News correspondent Anthony Mason.
"It's not," replied Wagner. "The bills aren't the expensive part of the operation. It's the time -- that's the expensive part."
"Lincoln" by Mark Wagner.
Left: "Rub-a-Dub," with detail.
In Wagner's world, Washington becomes Everyman ... and all the faces in the crowd.
"If I ever want an image of someone doing something, it's always George Washington," said Wagner. "He sort of stands in for everyone."
"The Money Lisa"
Left: Mark Wagner's collage, "The Money Lisa."
"The Money Lisa"
A detail from Mark Wagner's collage, "The Money Lisa."
"That's one of the ironies of the work," he told Mason. "People are so familiar with this object. They have their hands on it on a daily basis. And no one is really aware of what it looks like."
"Bird in the Hand"
The very act of cutting up a dollar bill raises the question of what it's worth. Mark Wagner's art is a conversation about the nature of money and American identity:
"I'm not making posters. I'm not making protest signs. You know, art happens in two places: Art happens in my brain when I'm making these things, and then in the viewer's brain, when they're looking at them. I'm interested in what everyone brings to the table."
"Brainstorm" by Mark Wagner.
"Buying the Brooklyn Bridge"
"Buying the Brooklyn Bridge" by Mark Wagner.
"I.O.U." by Mark Wagner.
"Concerned Citizen" by Mark Wagner.
"The Way of the Dinosaur"
"The Way of the Dinosaur" by Mark Wagner.
"Waiting for Godot"
A Brechtian scene: "Waiting for Godot" by Mark Wagner.
"Bucks Obama," a presidential portrait by Mark Wagner.
For more info:
Pavel Zoubok Gallery, New York, N.Y.
By CBSNews.com senior producer David Morgan