watercolor and gouache on defunct Hungarian currency

7 1/8 x 3 1/2 inches (11 x 14 inches framed)

Hanna von Goeler - "Black-Eared Wheateater"

  • My love of birds and ornithology is the point of departure for this recent series of currency work. The contribution of global economics to climate change is deeply disturbing and is altering and destroying some of the habitats that migratory birds depend on. Birds and other life forms are, so-to-speak, “canaries in the coal mine.” In many early cultures birds were seen as messengers, and were venerated for their ability to foretell future events.


    In this series, various bird species are painted onto defunct currencies, as a means to both question and insert value. The series asks us to look beyond a purely economic perspective at the same time as it calls attention to the intricate relationship between commerce and environment. It highlights the malleability of both human territories and bird habitats, as influenced by human behavior. Migration and habitat, both human and avian, find uncanny resonance as Europeans struggle with an ongoing refugee crisis; and as they grapple with how to live together culturally, economically, and politically within the Eurozone. The use of defunct currency suggests the fragility, instability, and changing nature of political and national identity.


    Hanna von Goeler received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Rhode Island School of Design and a Master of Fine Arts from the University of California, Davis. She completed additional study at the Jan van Eyck Academy, an international post graduate program in the Netherlands. Born in Europe, von Goeler's family moved to the United States while she was an infant. Her father worked as a physicist at Princeton University. The international atmosphere there, as well as her bilingual upbringing and frequent travels led to her preoccupation with the fluidity of identity, culture, and perception. Her parents' wartime experiences, as well, influence her work and perspective. Her work has been been shown internationally and featured in publications such as the Wall Street Journal and New York Times.