How to Mend History

and other radical acts of care

As I continue engaging with the American flag I’m wondering if my job is to mend/heal the wounds or preserve the artifact. What’s my responsibility as an artist? as an archivist? as an American? as a military child? To the past? to the future? to the country? to the flag? to freedom? to my father? Usually when I acquire items that have been cast away I don’t clean them- preferring the funk they bring from former use. But when I was given these old flags it hit different- I felt tender towards them. They seamed so vulnerable and spent. War torn and battered. I washed them each by hand before deciding next steps.

vintage flag with wounds reinforced and stains preserved

stars & stripes forever
vintage flag with visible mending

outsourcing patriotism
new flag- made in china
purchased from Amazon
cut apart and reimagined

hanging on by a thread/ coming apart at the seams

Made by stitching on a soluble substrate during the pandemic lockdown and protests in the summer of 2020. Dissolved on my front porch with the help of my children -activism on the front porch. The activation was a cathartic release, a ritual cleansing. What remains is a husk, evidence of a former self, a ghost of the past with hope for the future and the possibility to move forward. This project got me thinking about how to raise politically engaged children and my role as a parent in raising activists. I’ve boiled it down to the following…listen, support, question, support, listen, enable, accompany, listen, engage, include, listen, share, listen.
2021 – First Place – “Stand” –  Art Fluent, MA


• April 16, 2024

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