The Pure Products of America Go Crazy

Poet William Carlos Williams’ line “the pure products of America go crazy” in For Elsie, truly captures the spirit we intended for Pure Products USA artworks and limited editions in 1992. 

It was an ideal title blurring lines between consumerism, morality and politics. And as our series grew from bible belts to underwear to dish towels to postcard books, what had started out as an art project eventually grew to become, well, products.

What's the next pink flamingo?

We always asked ourselves, “What’s the next pink flamingo?” Little did we realize we were on that road to find out.

We had always liked what happens when warm and fuzzy meets offensive and obscene, like in our snow globes with sins and dirty words. 

In 2001, The John Ashcroft snow globe was our very first - an ivory white resin bust submerged in water and falling snow with a windup music box that tinkled “White Christmas.” It was about whiteness, and Ashcroft’s racism obstructing integration in Missouri.

Someone (Chris Christie to be exact)  gifted Attorney General Ashcroft a globe. He liked it so much, the Justice Department wanted us to paint his official portrait. Until they discovered that our snow globe wasn’t much of a tribute  after reading Jake Tapper’s article for “The Talk of the Town” in The New Yorker magazine.  

But that didn’t stop us, we did his portrait anyway as a mug shot because of his support for the Patriot Act.

And that sparked an idea, since the Bush cabinet betrayed the public’s trust in so many ways – why not do all of their portraits in mug shots?

We sold them as postcard books on the streets in Union Square during the RNC.

Thinking of the Bush cabinet as criminals was pretty bold in 2004. The downtown printers feared retribution - after all they did print the official 9/11 Memorial Calendar.  After two more edition printings, they were solidly beside us, public opinion had shifted so fast.

Then 2004 happened, or rather George W. Bush’s re-election happened. 

For us, that was hard - It was our dark blue period those days.

One evening later that fall at a concert, I noticed Nora fiercely started drawing in a sketchbook on her lap inspired by the music. Suddenly she turned and looked up to say, “I’m going to make a Fuck snow globe.”

Sure, enough, Nora based the typography of the Fuck snow globe on the 2004 Bush/Cheney campaign lettering.

We made the first 300 by hand, all signed by us and numbered under the base.

They became so popular, a few months after that, we started hand-casting and assembling the F**K snow globe right in our Brooklyn Navy Yard studio. The audience kept on growing and growing.

And then we scaled up in 2009 expanding our production 10-fold. In 2021 we celebrated the sale of our 10,000th F**K snow globe! Now you can find it In homes and offices of all over the globe!

There are other globes, too. In 2009 in the throes of Bernie Madoff's Ponzi scandal, we created the Greed snow globe.

It was one of the most beautiful things we had made. Flakes of gold leaf are embedded in resin cast like honey ember nuggets in gold.

When Nora showed it to me, I immediately asked, “Why make only one sin? Let’s make all 7 Deadly Sins! They belong together."

As artist residents at Eyebeam Center for Art and Technology in Chelsea, NYC, we learned to use a laser cutter, stylizing words with Bezier points and curves instead of hand modeling in clay. We designed the word on a computer and cut the master on a laser cutter, made silicon molds, and then hand-cast our sins. 

Deadly Sins 1-7 was an open edition and a special, lettered edition (A-Z). 

Since the Deadly Sins, we’ve gone on to The History of Art snow globes with Artware Editions – 20 modern and contemporary art movements.

And make custom globes for organizations and individuals.