OLD GLORY: FEB 17- MARCH 5, 2017:
Jesse Edwards, David Kramer, Talia Shulze, Michael Scoggins, Rebecca Goyette, J. Morrison, Savannah Spirit, Joe Nanashe, Alex Bierk, Cali Thornhill Dewitt, Joaquin Segura, Mauricio Cortes Ortega & Laura Genes, Jesse Purcell, Josh MacPhee, Colin Matthes, Jordan Eagles & Jonny Cota , Natalie Baxter, Fernando Marti, Megan Whitmarsh, Jim Christensen
How do you write about America today? It's already different from yesterday, and I'm certain that tomorrow will bring a whole new set of concerns. And when I say "yesterday" and "tomorrow", I'm not referring to the past and the future in more general terms. I mean literally yesterday as in "one day ago" and tomorrow as in "one day from now".
As a child, I grew up in the eastern Canadian province of New Brunswick, just east of Quebec and north of Maine.
Growing up on a border town, we visited the US regularly....shopping for clothes, going to state fairs, concerts, restaurants, summer lake homes and experiencing American TV, junk food and beer. I could always feel the difference between the 2 countries. To me, America seemed better. Bigger, more stuff, some warm climate, famous people, New York City, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Chicago, Miami Beach, Old Orchard Beach. You just can't beat that. A little more scary, a little more exciting.
As such, I have always loved the symbols of America...the flag, the anthem, the 4th of July. In Canada, we have a flag and an anthem and the 1st of July, but it just doesn't feel the same. I could listen to Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, Marvin Gaye or any little kid sing the American National Anthem on YouTube, and I might spend a little too much time watching others sing it as well. American Idol style. I can hardly get through the Canadian anthem once.
"And the rockets red glare, the bombs bursting in air, gave proof through the night, that our flag was still there!"
(This is when the excitement starts to build for me, and my eyes start to water. It doesn't matter if I'm watching a bunch of football players gearing up for their big game. This game seems bigger.)
Ultimately it's a song about a flag, and a song about a country's freedom. It also has 3 other verses that we never hear.
Maybe all the important stuff is in the first verse.
The song asks questions. Literally. It starts with the question "Oh say, can you see?" and ends with the question "Oh say, does that star spangled banner yet wave?" ( There is also the lesser known "What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep, as it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?")
Perhaps these are the questions we need to ask ourselves when we look at the flag. Can we see? Does it still? Is this emblem of freedom still all that? What is freedom today in the good ol' USA? Does this flag still wave over the land of the free and the home of the brave?
If you live in America, you encounter this ubiquitous symbol at every turn ...rectangles with 13 stripes and 50 stars. RED, WHITE, BLUE.
Personally, I can't look at it without feeling its history....I always think of all the people who have lost their lives to guns and war, in the name of America.
And all the people who have come here from other places to live their dreams. Like me.
And the fight that continues for basic rights and freedoms for all people.
And a host of other complications with being the country who "leads the free world".
Budweiser, tailgate parties, deep fried Thanksgiving turkey, "America voted, and you're going home".
Back in December, the gallery hosted Eric Doeringer's Matson Jones & Co, which featured the artist's loving and careful remakes of works by Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg. Doeringer's versions of Johns' flag works pointed to our contemporary political moment through the lens of the past. Spending time with these works got me thinking about my own relationship with America, as a Canadian who now calls New York her home, with the precarious status of being here on a visa. I started thinking about how loaded these 13 stripes and 50 stars actually are, and the countless ways that they are represented.
A flag exhibition wouldn't even need to include contemporary art to be compelling, but OLD GLORY, as an exhibition, goes there. It explores the use of the American flag (and in some cases, other flags) in works by artists who, like most of us, look critically at our current state of affairs, our past, and our future. Today, yesterday and tomorrow.....our freedoms, our progress, and our lack thereof.
-Katharine Mulherin, February 2017
"This piece is painted from a collage using a graphic image of the American flag and a cut-out of a photograph I took of a window from the house I grew up in. Positioning the viewer outside looking in, this piece references the loss of, and search for, the American dream."
Alex Bierk has participated in exhibitions in Copenhagen, Paris and Stockholm. He recently completed a public mural project with the City of Peterborough and is publishing a book this spring with Swimmers Group (Toronto, ON). His work is held in the collections of the Royal Bank of Canada, TD Bank and the Art Gallery of Peterborough. In 2013, he was a finalist for the Kingston Prize, a national bi-annual portrait competition, and has since been the recipient of grants from the Toronto and Ontario Arts Councils, as well as the Canada Council for the Arts. Alex has exhibited his paintings in group and solo exhibitions in Canada, the United States and internationally.
"A page out of a notebook, with its blue lines and spiral bound edges, is a familiar image. This is my primary vehicle in utilizing a connection with the viewer. The paper is enlarged to give this common object a sense of importance and to create a new perspective. The text and images placed upon the large page deal with the influences of American culture and how it has shaped my life. The paper is torn, crumpled and folded to implicate a tangible history and to suggest the creation of an object, thus expanding the definition of traditional drawing." - Michael Scoggins
Michael Scoggins was born in Washington D.C in 1973 and gained an MFA in painting from the Savannah College of Art and Design in 2006 and has attended various prestigious residencies including the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, the MacDowell Colony, and Fountainhead. Michael has gained international recognition and gallery representation in Atlanta, Miami, New York, San Francisco, Vienna and Seoul. His works have been added to some notable collections including, but not limited to, the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles and the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Michael has had works exhibited in over twenty solo shows, fifty curated group exhibitions, and written about in countless publications.
Cali Thornhill DeWitt (born 1973, Vancouver Islands, Canada) lives and works in Los Angeles, USA. Dewitt’s practice reflects a complex and fragmented world, but instead of fostering first world apathy or nihilism, it induces curiosity, defiance and hope. He works in the same tradition as Jenny Holzer, Barbara Kruger, John Giorno and the late great Mike Kelley. He is a multidisciplinary artist and eclectic instigator. He runs the independent record label and publishing house Teenage Teardrops together with his wife Jenna Thornhill DeWitt (a frequent collaborator). Recent and ongoing collaborations include Varg (album covers) Kanye West (Pablo World), Iceage (videos, album covers), A Four Labs (two collections), Someware (a collaboration with artist Brendan Fowler) and numerous projects with Haruka Hirata of Big Love. A new artist book Over The Volcano has just been released at The New York Art Book Fair.
"the flag represents a living country and is itself considered a living thing" (4 U.S.C. § 8(j))*
Laura Genes is an artist and Masters of Science candidate in Art, Culture and Technology at MIT. She looks to find in the world what she suspects are evidences of thoughtfulness - intentional, accidental or otherwise. She believes thoughtfulness is the first step towards any social justice. Working through performance and sculpture, her recent projects tackle the question of how to make art “on campus” and how the university environment can be a place to re-activate forms of citizenship that are not as accessible or attainable on a larger scale. Laura studied architecture at the Cooper Union. Her thesis, “Roosevelt Island – Site Exhaustion” received the Goldfischer Memorial Award, recognizing the project that best explores relationships between humanistic and aesthetic principles in an urban context. She has been collaborating with artist, Mauricio Cortes since they met in 2008. They received the Menschel Fellowship Award for “The Nancy Flowers Project”, a multimedia project with Hugo Genes that delivered photographs taken by anthropologist, Nancy Flowers in the 1980’s back to their subjects, the Pimental Barbosa, Xavante of Mato Grosso, Brazil. Laura has professional experience in fabrication and production, with Situ Studios and at the Queens Museum where she has had the pleasure of developing projects with Walid Raad and Mierle Laderman Ukeles, respectively.
Born in 1990 northern Mexico, Mauricio Cortes Ortega moved to the United States in 1999. In 2012, he received his B.F.A. from The Cooper Union and his M.F.A. in Painting and Printmaking from Yale University School of Art in 2016. Cortes studied with artists and educators Pablo Helguera and Doug Ashford, he also took part of a new initiative called Juncture, a collaboration between the Yale Law school and the School of Art. Under the tutelage of James J. Silk, director of the Schell Center for International Human Rights, Cortes explored the intersection between art and artistic practices and international human rights.
Cortes is the recipient of the Schell Center for international Human Rights Travel fellowship Yale Law School (2015), the Jóvenes Creadores Mexican National Council for Culture and Arts painting fellowship (2013) and the Benjamin Menschel Travel Fellowship, the Ellen Battell Stoeckel Painting Fellowship (both 2011). Recent group exhibitions include Practice Makes Practice at Mulherin New York, Of Another, a two-person exhibition at Silk Road Gallery, New Haven, Connecticut; Sunrise/Sunset at Infinity Room, Los Angeles; and Double Dip, MFA thesis at Greenhall Gallery, New Haven, Connecticut. In 2015, a collaborative work with artist Laura Genes was exhibited as part of the 2015 Biennal de las Fronteras in Tamaulipas, Mexico. Mauricio Cortes currently lives and works in New York City.
Jesse Edwards lives and works in New York, NY and Seattle, WA. Edwards studied oil painting at the Gage Academy of Art in Seattle and later studied ceramics with Charles Krafft. He worked with Chuck Close from late 2012 to early 2013. Edwards historicizes American counterculture by representing its symbols and iconic imagery in formal art historical genres such as still lifes, landscapes and portraits.
"I was born in NYC in 1963. When I was around 4-years old my family moved to New Rochelle, where I lived until I was old enough to leave home and move back to the City I loved. At the end of the block that I lived on in New Rochelle was a country club. Wykagyl Country Club, at the time, was a “Restricted” country club. Jews and Blacks were not allowed to join. We were Jewish. My mother had come to America from Cuba. Her family had ran away from Belarus and Russia and had to settle in Cuba because Jews were not allowed to immigrate to America at the time. My grandfather used to tell me as a child that “…he ran away from Stalin and he ran away from Castro.” I remember asking him as a little boy, “…How do we know it is time to stop running?”
I have always loved living in New York and by I have always had a healthy discomfort with the rest of the country. I used to tell friends from Canada and Europe that I lived on a small island off the coast of the United States.
I was never in doubt that Donald Trump had a serious chance of taking this past election. The anger and ignorance of the American voters has always astonished me and so I was more in disbelief that a black man could ever win as President than I was in disbelief that voters could choose a candidate who stood for “restricted” housing and bans on foreigners. This is still a great city that I live in and it is still a country with so much potential. But as long as we elect ignorance to lead us we will never fully reach our potential." -David Kramer
David Kramer is a painter/sculptor/video artist and performer. His works have been exhibited widely in museums and galleries across North America and Europe.
Hamburger Hill is a mixed media sculpture alluding to the infamous Vietnam War-era Battle of Hamburger Hill, in which the invading US military fought against North-Vietnamese forces in May 1969.
The highly questionable military command during the battle caused extreme controversy, also due to Richard Nixon's Vietnamese policy, considered bloody and senseless at the time. This high-casualty 10-day incident was originally just planned as a diversionary tactic, nevertheless leading to a significant loss of human lives in order to achieve doubtful strategic superiority in the overall armed conflict. -Joaquin Segura
Joaquín Segura‘s practice meditates on the phenomenology of violence, sociopolitical microclimates, asymmetrical history and the current role of ideology. Major concerns addressed in recent projects revolve around the nature of power, identity in an age of particular instability and the ontological significance of dissent and failure, here and now.-
JOAQUIN SEGURA (Mexico City, 1980) is a visual artist who lives and works in Mexico City, Mexico. His action, installation, intervention and photographic work has been shown in solo and group exhibitions in Mexico, USA, Europe and Asia. Some spaces that have featured his work include Sala de Arte Público Siqueiros, Museo de Arte Carrillo Gil, La Panaderia and Museo Tamayo Arte Contemporáneo in Mexico City, along with El Museo del Barrio, Anthology Film Archives, White Box and apexart (New York, NY), LA
"The photograph of an American flag was laser etched into paper. The laser burns the paper in relation to the lighter or darker areas of the image, creating a low relief three-dimensional object. The act of burning creates the flag. The symbol is revealed through what is typically an act of desecration.
“Untitled (Burned Flag)” was a part of the artist’s recent solo exhibition, “American Vanitas.” Joe often returns to images and symbols of American identity: bomb pops, Kraft American Cheese, Wonder Bread, Life Savers, meat, flags, Hollywood, celebrity. Beyond the “Americanism” of these objects, they often exist within the context of time: melting, burning, dissolving, rotting, or the desperate attempts to delay this process, to preserve. This fascination with time-based materials existing in the suspended animation of photography becomes a contemporary momento mori. These works commemorate, celebrate, mourn, and fear the fall of the American Empire, a consistent theme the artist has dealt with since the beginning of the Bush administration. This decline of Western Democracy and our American Identity has unfortunately accelerated exponentially from foreboding warning of possibilities to our terrifying current state of affairs.
Joe Nanashe was born in Akron, Ohio. The city’s post-industrial landscape and emphasis on manual labor influenced the repetitive, task-driven nature of his work. He received his BFA from the University of Akron in 2003 and his MFA from Rutgers in 2005. A multimedia artist, Nanashe creates works that confront the viewer with issues of violence, control, meaning, humor, perception, and the body. His videos have been shown in multiple editions of the Chicago, New York, Boston, and Lausanne Underground Film Festivals. His drawings, sculpture, photographs, and sound work have been exhibited at the Parrish Art Museum and Islip Art Museum on Long Island; Eric Firestone and QF Gallery in East Hampton, Catinca Tabacaru, Fresh Window, Jim Kempner Fine Art and Garis &Hahn Gallery in New York City, as well as internationally in Argentina, Canada, Germany, Japan, The Netherlands, Russia, and Switzerland. He was a 2105 Finalist for the New York Foundation for the Arts Artist Fellowship in Interdisciplinary Art. His solo exhibition, “Joe Nanashe, American Vanitas” opened at Victori+Mo Gallery September 2016. Joe currently lives and works in Ridgewood, NY.
With Roe vs Wade on the brink of being reversed and a fascist regime taking over the United States, I AM MY OWN PRESIDENT 1 & 2 is meant to represent freedom of choice for women; access to safe abortions and birth control, freedom to decide what they can and can’t do with their bodies. No other person should make that decision but the woman herself. From the series, Shake Sauvage, I AM MY OWN PRESIDENT presents the notion that we are in effect our own custodians of our bodies. The US Government, this administration, has no say in what we can and can’t do. “Period”-Savannah Spirit, 2017
Since 2014, Savannah Spirit has been working on a collection of self-portraits with a wink to the playboy pin-up and a nod to female empowerment. Savannah blends wit and humor while exploring themes of body politics, feminism, censorship, the male gaze and the female archetype. Her current sub-series, My Body, My Choice is a direct call to women's rights as America faces the complete dismantling of Roe vs Wade. As an activist, Savannah has dedicated her time to photographing important civil rights issues starting with Occupy Wall Street, Black Lives Matter, People's Climate March, March Against Monsanto, NYC's rally for Bernie Sanders, Anti-Trump protests and the Women's March. Her image, "Claim Power" was recently published in The Abolitionist, a free paper by non-profit activist group, Critical Resistance distributed to incarcerated inmates throughout state prisons. As a curator Savannah has mounted art exhibitions throughout NYC and Brooklyn including the infamous erotic art show, Hotter Than July. Savannah has lectured about her work at various Apple locations around NYC and published in Forbes, Dazed, The Creators Project, Huffington Post, Monopol and The Nation. Her work is in private collections internationally with a permanent piece in Tom Ford's Houston, TX flagship store.
JORDAN EAGLES is a New York based artist working in painting/sculpture hybrids, sculpture, and installation. Blood, sourced from a slaughterhouse, is the primary material in Eagles' work. His recent project Blood Mirror is created with 59 human blood donations to advocate for equality. Eagles approaches blood as a life-force and his interest in the material stems from both its symbolic and visceral qualities. Eagles encases, layers and suspends blood in resin, a preservation technique that permanently retains the organic material’s natural colors, patterns, and textures. He employs various mark making methods and when lit, the works become translucent, cast shadows, and project a glow. In Illumination installations, the preserved blood's colors and patterns are projected into spaces and onto viewers, transforming the environment and observers. Overall, the process, material, and luminosity in Eagles' work address themes of corporeality, mortality, spirituality, and science.
Recent exhibitions and public programs include: The High Line (New York), Hammer Museum (Los Angeles), Trinity Wall Street (New York), American University Museum (Washington, DC), and Boston Center for the Arts. Eagles is one of the founding collaborators of the Blood Equalitycampaign (with FCB Health and GMHC) which raises awareness of the FDA's discriminatory blood donation policy and advocates for equality.
Eagles' work is held in numerous private and public collections including the Addison Gallery of American Art, Everson Museum of Art, Peabody Essex Museum, Princeton University Art Museum, Prudential Center, The Rose Art Museum, and University of Michigan Museum of Art.
Rebecca Goyette’s sociopolitical video and multidisciplinary work reflects her penchant for bizarro Americana. Goyette performs a broad range of characters along with an evolving ensemble cast who help facilitate scenarios ranging from simulating nature to historic reenactment and outer space/time travel. Post 9/11, Goyette became an active core member of the protest performance art group “The Missile Dick Chicks,” a group of “wealthy wives from Crawford, Texas” proselytizing with hit song/dance routines like “Shop in the Name of War” and “These Bombs Are Made for Dropping.” In anticipation of this year’s election, Goyette produced a highly publicized solo show at Freight and Volume Gallery, “Ghost Bitch USA.” Inspired by her direct ancestor, Rebecca Nurse who was hanged as a Salem witch, Goyette paralleled early Puritan savagery with today’s toxic masculinity culminating in a witchy candidate castration ritual. Her painting "Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Ghost Bitch Board" represents an American childhood memory set atop Old Glory herself.
Rebecca Goyette is represented by Freight and Volume Gallery. She has exhibited internationally with solo shows at Jersey City Museum, Jersey City, NJ and Galerie X, Istanbul, Turkey and group shows/performances at Whitney Museum of Art, Queens Museum of Art Weisman Museum of Art, MN, Winkleman Gallery, NYC, Stux Gallery, NYC and Gallery Poulsen, Copenhagen, Denmark. Her work has been reviewed in Ms. Magazine, Newsweek, The Village Voice, Vice Magazine, Hyperallergic, Art F City, Huffington Post, NY Arts Magazine, amongst others. Goyette is also a lecturer at the Museum of Modern Art and has taught/lectured at Cooper Union, School of Visual Arts, Montclair University, The New School and Eyebeam.
JIM CHRISTENSEN: "My textiles, sculptures, and drawings, reflect upon the history of early twentieth-century American manufacturing and the politics embedded in historical and contemporary forms of labor and craftsmanship. My recent work references a number of visual and textual sources from the earlier part of the twentieth-century, a time marked by rising industrialization, labor disputes, assembly-line production, the advent of prohibition and international conflict. All of my work is marked by an intentional hand-made quality that that I refer to as “homespun.” As such, I’m intending to pay homage to this country’s history of working-class immigrant labor and point to the value of the individual’s unique contribution to the whole."
Jim Christensen lives in Wyncote, PA, just outside of Philadelphia. He has exhibited his sculpture and drawings at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Institute of Contemporary Art - San Jose, Rena Bransten Gallery, and the College of Marin Art Gallery, amongst other places. He is the recipient of a Eureka Fellowship Award, and his work is included in the permanent collection of the M.H. De Young Memorial Museum.
"Using sewing and quilting techniques learned from my grandmother, my work explores concepts of place identity, nostalgia, and gender stereotypes. I create soft sculpture that playfully push controversial political issues. A recent body of work, Warm Gun, looks at the United States’ complicated relationship with guns. The work examines issues of gun violence and masculinity through a collection of colorfully quilted, droopy, cartoon-like depictions of assault weapons. Bloated Flags is a collection of stuffed, swollen versions of the American flag using a variety of flamboyant fabrics to create works that resemble pool toys. With these sculptural pieces, I am interested in the flag as a symbol with a variety of representations and swaying definitions of pride and shame. I strive to create approachable work with an accessible entry point to unpack political issues that have become points of division in today’s political and social landscape." - Natalie Baxter
Natalie Baxter (b. 1985, Kentucky) received her MFA from the University of Kentucky in 2012 and her BA in Fine Art from the University of the South in Sewanee, TN in 2007. Her work has been exhibited recently at Alison Milne Gallery (Toronto, ON), Redline (Denver), Institute 193 (Lexington, KY), In Ersten (Vienna, Austria), A+E Studios (New York, NY) and The Cornell Art Museum (DelRay Beach, FL). Baxter’s work has been featured in Vice’s The Creator’s Project, Hyperallergic, The Huffington Post, The Guardian and the London Observer. Baxter has been an artist in residence at The Wassaic Project and a fellowship recipient at the Vermont Studio Center. She currently works in Brooklyn, NY.
Who is America ‘For’?
When people say they miss the way
‘Things used to be in America.’
It makes me wonder why they think things
‘Used to be’ better here.
Who was it better for?
Who is the ‘Land of Opportunity.!’
In the First Place
Not Us LOL
Talia Shulze was born in 1984 Minneapolis, MN and currently lives in Brooklyn. In 2006 she received her BFA in Sculpture at the Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia. Talia has co-curated and participated in several group shows in New York and beyond. Talia’s practice is expansive and varied, immersing herself in experimentation from ceramics to gifs, painting on screens, canvas and photographs and most recently watercolors made on wilderness trips. She is an avid forager for mushrooms.
The "Silence = Death" text is taken with permission from the Silence = Death Project, which was published by Act Up in 1987. The flags are created as a take-one piece to benefit the ACLU.
J. Morrison is a multidisciplinary Brooklyn-based artist working in print, performance, and curatorial projects. He often creates art using ephemeral, multiples, and take-one pieces within his practice. He is also the creator of the visual art project HOMOCATS.
"I am trying to use up all the fabric of one (used) flag making things. Here is the first one. It's a piece of paper with a quote by Vine Deloria Jr. ( Native American activist) from 1971. I was born in 1972. When I was in 2nd grade I lived in Indiana. My parents were from California. I didn’t know the Pledge of Allegiance and I got in trouble with the teacher. I was supposed to go home and memorize it. But I was a spacey kid and I kept forgetting. My parents got called in to the Principal’s office and when my Dad found out why I was in trouble he rebelled and said I didn’t need to say or know the Pledge of Allegiance. The teacher and the principal backed down. After that I was told to wait in the hallway while all the other kids said the Pledge of Allegiance. My brother and I got called “commie” during recess. I had a sort of resentment against the flag for a long time after that. While I was in middle school living in Illinois my mother went to jail protesting at a nuclear weapons facility and once again I got called ‘commie’ at school when people found out. I ended up going to an alternative high school (thank God) in Michigan called Community High and although they had no sports teams we did have letter jackets that said “Commie High” on the back. Finally I was able to embrace my nickname. Last month my neighbor gave my kids a flag. He is a policeman. It has been in the trunk of my car for awhile. I didn’t want to put it up exactly though I do love my country and its many peoples. But I also felt like I couldn’t just throw it away. Making things out of it seems both respectful and challenging which is what I think America is all about. We stand for dignity and equality but we also get to speak truth to power and challenge authority." -Megan Whitmarsh
Los Angeles-based artist Megan Whitmarsh, born in 1972, works predominantly in textiles, using hand embroidery and fabric to create wall pieces and sculptural works which make reference to both contemporary and past cultural history. She has worked with curators Robert Wilson, Todd Oldham, Dean Daderko, and Adi Nachman among others and has had projects commissioned by Art Basel Miami (Wolfsonian Museum), the Watermill Center, and David Byrne. She has shown in galleries and museums internationally including recent exhibitions in New York, Los Angeles, Amsterdam, Brussels, Zurich, Valencia, Malmo, and Tokyo and Tel Aviv. Recent projects include guest editing the 1016 issue of the arts publication ‘Pastelegram’ and an audience participatory exhibition created with Jade Gordon and presented at Human Resources LA, a non-profit exhibition space in Los Angeles that focuses on multi-disciplinary works that engage community. She creates and publishes an art newspaper entitled “Statues and Attitudes”.
FERNANDO MARTI : I arrived in this country as a five-year old in the seventies, and one of my earliest political memories was the predominance of the flag throughout the bicentennial celebrations. As is the case in any modern nation, there is a profound contradiction between the lies (and hopes) of the imagined nation, and its reality, and nowhere is this contradiction more apparent than in the symbolism of the flag. I’ve toyed with riffs on the American flag, black ink on black, since the first Iraq War. Inspiration came from seeing Jasper Johns’ flags at the Whitney (I think) years ago, and later Barbara Kruger’s Untitled (Questions) or David Hammond’s African-American Flag, or my friend Yolanda Lopez’s Los Siete poster. Or the portrait of Russell Means wrapped in the flag, upside down in symbol of distress. Seeing American flags flying at Indian reservations, perhaps above homes of veterans. Or so many Native artists, like Fritz Scholder, riffing on the flag.
And then there’s the very word “America:” who claimed this name for this imperial domination, for this vision of Manifest Destiny? As Betita Martinez reminded us, “long before the 1500s the name Maraca, Amaracapa, and even Amerikamique, could be found for an area stretching from the Caribbean to Venezuela to Brazil... Just how and when “America” may have evolved from those indigenous names remains unknown. But we do know that whatever its exact history, under Spanish and Portuguese rule, the name came to represent invasion and bloody conquest for native peoples.”
This is my modest contribution to that (re)imagination of the flag. The stars, I knew, had to be the real constellations and a Milky Way that’s become extinct in most urbanized areas, with the north star of the Underground Railroad at the top. The stripes would be drips below, either blood or oil or both, and I toyed for a while with how to show the roots of the ancient American seas that became our subterranean rivers of crude oil, before abandoning that idea. The teepees from the Standing Rock camp came later, grounding this idea of “America” between sky and soil.
It was drawn in ink with my usual Uni-ball Micro, than adapted in Photoshop, vector-traced in Illustrator, and printed with a split-font of purple, black and red at Mission Gráfica in San Francisco. -Fernando Marti
Fernando Martí is a printmaker, community architect, and writer based in San Francisco. He is a member of the Justseeds cooperative of artists. His etchings, linocuts, screenprints, public constructions, and altar ofrendas reflect his formal training in urbanism, and explore the tension between inhabiting place, land and culture, and an ecological/utopian urge to build something transformative. Originally from Ecuador, he has been deeply involved in San Francisco’s community struggles since the mid-90s. Today, he works on housing and urban sustainability with San Francisco’s Council of Community Housing Organizations.
COLIN MATTHES: "My multi-disciplinary practice combines improvised, jury-rigged construction techniques honed while working as an installer of temporary electric for small town county fairs, brusque drawing, spectacle, and social and ecological urgency implicating the viewer while tempting their participation.
My projects, objects, and drawings aim to solve, create, or poke at loomingenvironmental and cultural problems. My work has been described by art critic Rafael Salas, as, “heartwarming, nostalgic, and full of humor despite its grim prognosis.” Ideally the work operates in a strangely familiar world that is both fantastic and commonplace.
In addition to solo projects, collaboration is an important part of my practice. I work with Justseeds to make prints, group installations, and projects alongside social movements."-Colin Matthes
Colin Matthes makes interdisciplinary work about engineering the absurd,which allows him to address economic and environmental crisis from a funny, critical, and perversely industrious point of view. He is also a member of Justseeds Artists’ Cooperative, where he contributes graphics to social movements. Matthes exhibits internationally and has participated in numerous residencies including Hotel Pupik (Austria), Werkkamp (Belgium),and Cow House Studios (Ireland). He won the Marl L Nohl Fellowship forIndividual Artists in 2102 (Established) and 2007 (Emerging).
Jesse Purcell and Josh MacPhee, Capture The Flag, 2016, hand sewn editioned book, silkscreen, 18 x 24 inches
Printed by Jesse Purcell at Repetitive Press Toronto
A meditation far more than a statement, this massive 20 page screen printed artist book starts with flags. Flags are paradoxically used as both markers of the internal cohesion of nation or tribe, and also as external proclamations of transformation and utopia. It is this tension that binds this book together. Beginning with MacPhee’s illustrations of flags stacking beneath, piling on, and wrapping around each other, these images become increasingly convoluted and unclear as the pages turn. For the tail end of the book, Purcell works his more playful imagery and textures into the fields of flags, meeting in a middle where all this imagery begins to conflict, contest, and even consume itself.