©2003 - 2019

 BY HEY LOLA ART CO./JESSICA MCGHEE

THE PENNY PROJECT

THE STORY

My family has always been pretty dysfunctional. When my dad passed away in 2011, all of that dysfunction made what was already a sad time turn into something that was just...traumatic.

 

Many comments were made about how my dad wasn't worth anything when he died. That his belongings were worthless, and that he had died penniless.

 

But when I went through my father's things, I found this box...full of pennies. And I laughed...because no matter what anyone said, he hadn't died "penniless." And I kept those pennies. And I added to them throughout the years, because when I found a penny, I felt like my dad was saying, "Hello. How's it going? I'm still with you. We're ok."

A few years ago, I had a devastating bout with depression and severe social anxiety. It lasted nearly a year. I barely got out of bed. I couldn't work. I was suicidal. Although it's no longer quite as severe, I still do battle with them pretty regularly. And as a result, I changed everything about my life. And the healing process has been hard, but it's working. 

 

Creating art and jewelry has been part of that process. Creating pieces that chronicled my own journey and offered encouragement to others as they struggled with their own journey has become a really important part of my work.

 

I'm always looking for new ways to use my work to share messages of hope and sometimes I pretty much trip over those ideas. One day, as I was cleaning my house, I found a penny on the floor.

 

Hi dad.

I wondered what I was going to do with this penny collection. And I wondered if I could turn a "worthless" penny into something beautiful. If I could make them meaningful to other people in the same way that they mean something to me.

 

And so I began to hammer and drill and stamp and buff and the whole time I was thinking to myself, "These aren't worthless. They're really beautiful. Imperfect, oddly shaped, scarred, a little rough...and beautiful. Not worthless at all."

And the penny project was born. I create these pieces as reminders that love comes from unexpected places. That we don't have to be perfect. That we're enough. And that we're not alone.

If you found your way here, I hope that you know that healing is possible. That when it seems like the whole world is telling you that you aren't enough, that that is a lie. You are so much more than enough. There was a time that I was sure that I was alone in this and that the whole world hated me. I was wrong. I'm enough. So are you. And I'm on your side.  We are not worthless.