Greeting the viewer upon entry is a three-panel mural depicting 15 snakes. Writhing in rows and woven together, the serpents create a mesmerizing, undulating patterned cloth that recalls the deceptive serpent of Genesis. Cast in tinted gypsum and rendered in low relief, the tessellation references histories of weaving and domestic labor, while evoking the sinister undertones surrounding snakes throughout mythology. While some stories connect the serpent to human kind’s fall from paradise, many more stories have placed similar blame on the true root of all evil: Money.
“Inimica Tyrannis America” is a Latin phrase that appeared on some of the first coins designed by the United States of America shortly after the Declaration of Independence. Although the phrase was broadly interpreted as “America fiercely opposes tyranny,” literally translated however, the phrase actually reads, “Unfriendly Tyrant, America.” The coin depicts a female figure standing with one foot on a British crown while holding a bow in one hand and a downward facing arrow in another. Today, the irony of the coin’s symbolism, which was clearly lost on our forefathers, challenges whatever noble beliefs one might hold about the way American history has been presented. The horrific way early Americans “settled” this country is riddled with troubling contradictions that we, as a country, must take into account moving forward.