Ursa Mater - CODAworx

Ursa Mater

Submitted by Mr & Mrs Ferguson Art

Client: Tahoe Public Art/San Jose Office of Cultural Affairs/Burning Man Art

Location: Tahoe City, CA, United States

Completion date: 2018

Artwork budget: $20,000

Project Team


Lisa Ferguson

Mr & Mrs Ferguson Art

Public Art Agent

Burning Man Arts


Ursa Mater, affectionately known to the citizens of Black Rock City (Burning Man) as Mamma Penny Bear is a sequential installation to our Ursa Mater sculpture from 2016. This bear returned with her cubs.

Third in our series of penny sculptures, this piece has the most coins we have ever placed to create the effect of a fur coat. This one has over 200,000 pennies. Ursa Mater was carved from foam and layered in a concrete stucco with the pennies placed in the wet stucco vertically, it took us and our 12 person art team, 4 months to complete.


We are deeply grateful to the honoraria support of Burning Man Arts, who have supported us on this project, previous and current. Burning Man wants to see innovation, community inclusion and a reputation for delivery in difficult conditions. We have worked with Burning Man Arts to display our art in public venues and together we have had the work displayed in downtown San Jose and currently in Tahoe City, CA.


This art is made possible by the commitment of our volunteer art team. As a team they put in hundreds of hours to the project which is also for the event they love, Burning Man. The pennies used as fur were donated by Burning Man community members in the US and Canada who wanted in at least a small way to be part of the project.

Additional Information

Our work is one of visual and sensory deception. A participant sees the installation from afar and recognizes it as a brown bear but on closer examination, they see that the fur is made of pennies and that they are a delightful to rub hands across. Questions beg as to how many pennies are on the piece, how heavy is it and how long would this have taken?