Last night was the culmination of something that started nine months ago – the opening night of “What Would Betsy Ross Do? The New American Flag Project,” a community art project that evolved from my reaction to the 2016 United States presidential election.
You may have seen my call to participate on this blog in December last year.
This is my artist statement from the show:
The morning of November 9, 2016, I woke up feeling intense anxiety with an image in my head that I had to go do something about.
I started piecing bits of fabric together in a concentric pattern. I stepped back and looked at the piece, and it occurred to me that I was redesigning a new United States flag based on what I saw this country becoming – an endless circling of opposing forces. It was cathartic.
Then I started wondering what other people would do with the same idea. Regardless of how they voted, what did they think? The Stars and Stripes are meant to symbolize unity and balance, but do they still accurately represent our country now? What would Betsy Ross’s flag look like if she were to create it today?
I sent a note out to friends and artists whom I thought might be interested. As more people began to respond, I looked for a gallery to show the work. I am very grateful to Cora Edmonds and her staff at ArtXchange for stepping forward to host the show.
Some participants are professional artists. Some are not. Some are people I know and some are friends of friends or relatives of friends. Others came to the project through social media connections. And some are students of teachers who brought the idea to their classrooms.
To all of those who participated, I thank you for your thoughtfulness and your efforts. You gave me my wish; to see what other people think, to bring together a community of creative people, and to heal through making art happen.
Art may change the world we live in. Or it may not. What is important is that it gives us a way of dealing with the world on our own terms.
Initially, I just wanted to see what other people would do with the idea of redesigning the U.S. flag for today’s America. Then I wanted to bring people together to share the experience of making art that makes a statement. Then I wanted to find a way to exhibit their works for the public to view.
I got all three.
Along the way I connected with a varied group of people, some of whom I knew and others whom I’d never met. I led a workshop for middle school students at Coyote Central (two other artists led art classes with young people as well). I got to work with the dedicated staff at ArtXchange Gallery.
The opening event was the icing on the cake, or perhaps the cookies.
I feel very fortunate to have been given the idea, the opportunity, and the support.
To see all the flags individually as well as the artists’ statements, please visit the ArtXchange Gallery website.
In addition, fifteen of the artists contributed to printing a collection of postcards with their images from the show. Proceeds from the sales of these packets will be donated to the ACLU at the end of the exhibit.
As I write when I sign copies of Apple Pie 4th of July – make your own parade!