Sunday, September 18, 2011


There is a massive public art project currently on display in midtown Kansas City across from the KC Federal Reserve building. I went down to the site with my camera today to take a few photos.

Side 1 of the display:

Side 2 of the display:

This art project is a 15 x 7 x 1 political statement - the letters "IOU" on one side and the letters "USA" on the other - arranged out of 105 empty shipping containers.

Here is a write-up about the project from the Kansas City Star:
A new monument with attitude awaits visitors to Kansas City’s Memorial Park over the next four weeks.

Towering over the park’s existing bronze memorials is a huge wall composed of 105 cargo containers. And it has a message.

The containers are mostly red, white and blue, and the white ones have been placed to spell out “IOU” on one side and “USA” on the other. The occasional green container prompts thoughts of money, especially as the 65-foot-tall structure stands across from the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.

Noted sculptor John Salvest created the temporary installation as a project for Grand Arts, and considering the nation’s struggle with debt on all levels — from personal home foreclosures to the recent downgrade of the nation’s credit rating — the timing is spot on.

Debt and the US' global economic position are no longer esoteric academic issues only concerning the educated of society. The US' debt problems are at the heart of mainstream America. Whether it was the debt ceiling debate debacle this past summer or the jobless reports that come out each week, the news of America's economic woes and debt crises are inescapable.

This gargantuan exhibit highlighting debt's prominence in American society is powerful. I think that shipping containers and everything that they invoke - China, trade imbalance, America's empty factories, the shallowness of materialism, etc. - are the perfect vehicle for the artist's message. The sheer physical scale of these containers is tremendous.

I took several more photos that I've posted below. Below those is a time-lapse YouTube video of the shipping containers being erected.

Edit 10/15/2011: For what it's worth, Kansas City's Occupy protest is going on at this display. Below is a wonderful photo showing this from To see more of Eric's photos of Occupy KC, click here:

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