I Pledge Allegiance: Concepts of Patriotism, Division and Unity
Patriotism, within our current cultural divisions, seems now defined in narrow terms that are exclusionary and judgmental. I explore this division through, I Pledge Allegiance: Concepts of Patriotism, Division and Unity.
The Take a Knee movement inspired this exhibit. It pushed me to question how a black man’s peaceful posture of being on one knee during the national anthem to highlight police brutality towards black men, could be considered disrespectful and unpatriotic. Yet, a white man on a horse with a gun and American flag, riding through a small Oregon town to take over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge is seen by many, a citizen’s right and patriotic.
This leads me to see other divisions in our country that literally are taking the fabric of our country apart stitch by stitch. One can acknowledge the quiet anger of division brewing for many years. Lack of action and conversation then, has fueled rhetoric and vulnerability now. This enables those who wish to manipulate such emotions with propaganda. This is frightening.
I Pledge Allegiance is completed in oil pastel and graphite on paper. This exhibit will consist of 15 individual pieces. Dimensions are 22”X31” inches unframed. Each picture represents various interpretations of patriotism or portrays neglected struggles within our culture, by including the American flag symbolically. When viewed together, this exhibit is meant to evoke the viewer to ponder a variety of highly passionate topics which divide our country. This collection draws from and will include historical facts and statements which define our country. Themes to be addressed include: take a knee movement/police force challenges, gun rights, gender and sexuality, immigration, religion, homelessness/poverty, veterans, corporate greed, environmental protections/climate change, government inadequacy, education, family and racism.
I plan to take this exhibit a step further, representing hope for unity in our nation. 10 collage pieces will be completed. Each collage will include pieces from two or three prints made from the original series. The collages will symbolize coming together in a common cause to repair the tapestry of this nation. Each collage will strive to remind us of our common humanity. Two opportunities for community engagement will be part of this exhibit: an open dynamic collage for individuals to add to with pieces of prints from this exhibit and puzzles which combine images from my art.
My art pieces are colorful and frequently highlight hands along with portraits of people from various backgrounds. The combination of oil pastel and graphite on paper allow me to bring texture and color to my pictures which adds depth and complexity. My goal with this application of medium and color is to represent the variety of people in our nation. The image of hands invokes a common humanity. I strive to touch the hearts of the viewer and provide a visual presentation of the complexity of feelings we all share. I strive to present the idea of tapestry and the need for repair and in doing so, remind the viewer of this possibility.
Funding has been made possible by the Puffin Foundation