An ART installation on america's foreclosure crisis


MAY 20-21, 2017

Rooms To Let: CLE invites artists to create work in vacant, foreclosed homes slated for demolition in Cleveland’s Slavic Village. Joshua Starcher will be collaborating with Melissa Estro on an installation titled Real Estate Goldmine that addresses the foreclosure crisis that has deeply impacted cities across the country, [1] hitting Slavic Village particularly hard. [2]

In our research we were particularly struck by the fact that while this crisis was unfolding, Donald Trump was actively advertising a seminar series, [3] via Trump University [4] called Real Estate Goldmine: How to Get Rich Investing in Pre-Foreclosures. [5] In it aspiring real estate investors and house flippers are instructed to target homeowners in compromised positions, headed toward foreclosure, and convince them to sell their homes at a discounted price. The seminar describes the ideal homeowner as a “borrower, … out of work, … has $50,000 in unpaid medical claims, … is completely disabled, … had an extraordinarily messy divorce where everything has been squandered." [6]

Detail: Photo Collage. At Trump University one ideal trait of a homeowner was someone who "has $50,000 in unpaid medical claims."

Our objective is to subtly bring attention to the absurdity of this fact. To illustrate this we will create a replica of a room one might have found in the home prior to falling victim to this predatory business model. We will fill the walls with gold-framed photographs that, at first glance, are of people in front of or inside homes. Upon closer inspection the viewer will see that the people in the photos have been cut out and replaced with medical bills, divorce papers, and foreclosure notices symbolizing traits aspiring investors were taught are desirable qualities.

The Pre-Foreclosures. Figures in the frames have been cut out and replaced with legal documents from student loan, pharmaceutical, and medical bills to divorce, child support, and foreclosure filings.

Among the photos on the wall will be cross-stich pieces based on quotes from Donald Trump, directly from the seminar, such as ”one person's misfortune is someone else's opportunity.” This will be in contrast to the more familiar “home sweet home”, speaking to the values of the business practices advocated by the person now elected to the highest office in our country. This will be complimented by an audio component of excerpts from the Real Estate Goldmine seminar spoken by Donald Trump.

Cross-stitch by Melissa Estro. Framing by Kat Starcher.

Cross-stitch by Melissa Estro. Framing by Kat Starcher.


Engineered by Tyler Derryberry

The following three tracks play intermittently throughout the course of the exhibit. Each track consists of samples from Trump University's seminar Real Estate Goldmine: How to Get Rich Investing in Pre-Foreclosures.

In another part of the room debt collector's calls will play on a loop.


Installation process in three stages.

Installation process in three stages.

Real Estate Goldmine

was installed in a foreclosed home at:

6627 Lansing Ave.
Cleveland, Ohio 44105

as part of a community renewal project by




See Real Estate Goldmine as it was shown as part of the 10th Annual Governors Island Art Fair.