Need to Pay Off a Mortgage? Artist Makes Houses Out of Credit Card Applications

We all know the feeling — the sight of a heap of mail in the mailbox is only exciting until you find out that it’s half magazine renewals and half credit card offers. Pennsylvania artist Jeremiah Johnson is doing something about all the economic spam: He turned the credit card mailers into miniature houses modeled on local homes. The sculptures are on view at Williamsport, Pennsylvania’s Grey Art Gallery.

He started collecting the mailers as an undergraduate, and accrued them through grad school for some future artistic purpose. The credit offers irked the art student: Johnson wasn’t making any money and couldn’t have paid off any credit accounts he might have opened because of the high interest rates. His collection grew fast: “If I actually cashed in all these credit cards and maxed them out immediately I’d have enough money to move to some deserted island somewhere in the Pacific and hide out where they wouldn’t find me and get their money back,” he said.

When the housing crisis struck, it was an inspiration. The defaulted loans were a perfect companion to the ironic credit card mailers. “Everyone else is buying their houses on credit so why not build houses out of credit card applications,” he explained. As he was looking to buy a house in Williamsport, he looked at homes in his neighborhood for the credit-card homes’ designs. The resulting models, with their cheerful offers of zero percent APR and rewards, are sarcastic commentaries on both our economy and our sense of domestic security. [Grey Art Gallery]