Wander Matrich, from Grand Rapids, Michigan, spent three months working on a giant penny sculpture made of 84,000 common pennies.The story of how an average woman managed to create this unique artwork began in 2006, when Matrich and her family were going through a really tough time. She had just got divorced, lost her house to foreclosure and was an unemployed mother of two daughters, aged 6 and 9. She was literally saving every penny and her girls pitched in the contents of their piggy bank, to help out in these troubled times. The pennies ended up in a plastic water jug, and even after Wander finally found a job, she took $20 from every paycheck, changed them into pennies and kept filling up the water jug.
Things started looking up for Wander and her family, but even though she eventually switched to a savings account, she kept all the pennies, as a reminder of how her fortune had turned around. Then, in 2010, she decided to use her small penny fortune to enter the Grand Rapids ArtPrize competition – she began picking her pennies carefully (throwing away the ones with scratches, marks or paint on them) and gluing them to a wooden frame, in the shape of a giant penny. Even the local bank got involved at one point, offering her brand new pennies from the US Mint, so she could create highlights
She worked 10-14 hours a day, for three months, but the end result was awe-inspiring, and the self-taught artist managed to rank sixth out of hundreds of participants at the ArtPrize contest, as well as attract the attention of Ripley’s Believe It or Not, who recently acquired the giant penny. It is made up of 84,000 pennies glued with 22 tubes of adhesive, measures 8 feet in diameter and 10 feet tall, and weighs approximately 1,200 pounds.
“Art was the only way I could tell a mass of people my story , I wanted to share the message that anyone can do this, you just have to start somewhere. What matters isn’t how much you make, but how much you save.” Wander Matrich told Ripley’s.