erika harrsch forms delicate currency butterflies from international bills erika harrsch forms delicate currency butterflies from international bills
feb 15, 2014

erika harrsch forms delicate currency butterflies from international bills

erika harrsch forms delicate currency butterflies from international bills
(above) ‘papilionumismia specimens’
all images courtesy of erika harrsch




exploring the cultural and societal notions of money — and how people relate to it when placed in a poetic, playful and imaginative context — new york-based artist erika harrsch forms currency butterflies, sculpted from specimen-prints of international bills. the monetized lepidoptera presented as wall installations, extinct specimens inside of entomological boxes or as free flight currency kites describe their fragile beauty, reserved and contained as a desired object. ‘after years of observing monarch butterflies closely, often photographing and filming at the sanctuaries in mexico, I have come to be in awe of their collective flight.’ harrsch explains, ‘the balanced perfection of its flow is fascinating, as is and the subtle correlation between light and the direction of the butterflies’ shifting patterns.’ the works weave together various notions about human nature, identity, capital circulation, commerce and trade through the juxtapose of each delicate creature and the powerful medium that defines them.

‘flow’, 2013
permanent wall installation at the eaton corp. world headquarters atrium, cleveland OH
16 x 9 feet


‘flow’ (detail)

papilionumismia ephemerae europeae (eurospecimens), 2011
three-dimensional cut-out hand-painted giclee print on archival cotton paper
each box: 8 x 6 x 3 in.
collection of 23 boxes, each with one specimen

papilionumismia ephemerae europeae (eurospecimens), (detail)

eurospecimens – papilionumismia ephemerae europeae, 2011

eurospecimens – papilionumismia ephemerae europeae, 2011

currency kite

the installation of ‘flow’


  • Erika is a bit of a dip stick.
    In many countries it is illegal to copy the currency.
    In all countries it is illegal to destroy the currency.
    Use coloured paper next time.

    Rank Frank says:
  • Safety first kids. Hard-hat, goggles and a dust mask when installing paper butterflies

    meija says:
  • Amazing, beautiful

    goldfish says:
  • Mr Rank Frank, where is subversion if not in actions like this?
    After all mankind makes currency bills (banknotes, money, whatever you may like to call it) and mankind can take the liberty to ‘beautifully destroy’ it…..and all the more so if the action sparks questions and….doubts.
    Well done Ms Erika….. only, I like that part less, which is the the most important one, the bills are fake …what a disappointment 🙁

    Vedett says:
  • Relax, “RANK Frank.” The butterflies are made as copies, not the actual currency. One of the captions says, “three-dimensional cut-out hand-painted giclee print on archival cotton paper.” That is why it’s considered ART, rather than destruction. And obviously, no authorities really have a problem with this installation; it is beautiful and culturally unifying.

    Kendra says:
  • One of the most amazing works I´ve ever seen. Congratulations Ms. Harrsch.
    Amazing work! love it !

    Rank Frank what do u mean by dip stick?

    Pepe says:

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