By Melissa Merli
"I could see them staying here, and this place deserves them," Heap of Birds said of the campus. He also said he's offering the university the installation at a "deep discount."
Twelve similar "Native Hosts" signs by Heap of Birds displayed in British Columbia were valued by two appraisers at $120,000, or $10,000 each. One of the appraisals was given to the Champaign County state's attorney's office earlier this year after UI student Mark Nepermann was arrested for stealing two of the signs in Urbana.
State's Attorney Julia Rietz charged Nepermann with misdemeanor rather than felony theft; the more serious charge of felony is generally filed when the value of the stolen items is more than $300. She based the value on an American Logo and Sign invoice; the company in Moore, Okla., manufactured the signs for Heap of Birds at a cost of $88.65 each.
Asked about the value that the state put on his work, the artist called it ridiculous and said it shows many folks don't understand fine or conceptual art. For example, a Rembrandt would not be valued according to the cost of the canvas, paints and brushes, he said.
Cheryl Cash's Photos--Edgar Heap of Birds Closing Events and Exhibit
they turned the damaged signs into another learning opportunity. The art's revised message went something like this: