THE WAR FLAG GRAPHIC - 2010
Back in 2010, I designed the 'War Flag' design you see below, which features a distressed image of the Flag of the Untied States of America with the stars and stripes made from hand grenades and M-16 assault rifles. When I have shown this design in galleries or art shows, the 'War Flag' has often solicited a lot of comments, questions and other lively conversation about the meaning and intent behind the art and what my overall message was an an artist. I wanted to take a moment and clarify a few things and show you my latest incarnation of this provocative design, now available as a new Arborgraph, printed onto a wooden, pine box.
A PICTURE IS WORTH A THOUSAND ASSUMPTIONS
If a picture is worth a thousand words, then it seems possible that a thousand people can interpret the same image a thousand different ways. Each of us might choose a completely different set of 1000 words to describe an image and it seems that the 'War Flag' has given folks everywhere a lot to say. I have been told by some that the 'War Flag' is clearly a statement about our nation's oppressive, violent, war mongering history and continued use of aggressive, military force to control and expand our nations interests at the barrel of a gun. One person asked me if I was making a statement about a recent school shooting. Another, if I was protesting the war in Afghanistan. Anther time I was told my an older gentleman, that the 'War Flag' design was nothing more than a symbolic defaming the flag itself as an act of senseless, rebellious anarchy. He implied that it was no better than flag burning! It seemed that for as many people that commented, there were options, with everyone expressing their own unique take on what the 'War Flag' was trying to say. I was rather surprised by the frequency and conviction of the different reactions I have received. I am very happy to report that so far, every person I have asked have all unanimously agreed, whether they liked the the 'War Flag' graphic or not, that they at least supported my right as an American to express myself freely under the laws of our country. We are an amazing nation indeed.
FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION
First off, I would like to say that I did not create this artwork to be disrespectful of the symbol of our great nation, our nation itself, our leaders or to besmirch the sacrifice that so many Americans have made and continue to make to defend and protect it. I myself served 3 years in Navy ROTC as a young man where I not only won the National Naval Science Award and was also Cadet of the Year. I have completed basic training required by all Naval Personnel and I can say that after just getting a small taste of what the outstanding people serving in our U.S. Military do for us everyday, I would never dream of insulting them, their service or our beautiful flag.
Secondly, it's because of our very right we possess as Americans to express ourselves freely, without fear of persecution from our government, that I wanted to make the flag in the first place and exercise this right, artistically. Our nation is an amazing place to live if not simply for the fact that I can create the 'War Flag' at all. In all seriousness, if I were an artist living in a country like North Korea and created and shared a similar image of the North Korean flag, I have no trouble imagining that I might be executed by the State or at least imprisoned and made an example of.
The fact of the matter is, I also did not create this graphic with a specific message in mind. What I wanted was people to express themselves and how it made them feel, whatever that might be. As artists, we are not just supposed to create 'pretty pictures', we are supposed to make people think. I want the 'War Flag' to evoke through it's imagery whatever interpretation, emotion or meaning the viewer wishes to have. I have never been a politically motivated person. I have no objective to pursue and I am certainly not trying to tell others what to think or how to feel about anything, let along our flag. I simply want to get people talking and sharing their thoughts and expressing themselves, freely. If I had a wish, though, I would like the 'War Flag' to stand as a tribute to all of the Americans who gave their lives in all of the many wars our country has been engaged in, regardless of the popularity or politics associated with that particular conflict.
WHAT DO YOU THINK
Please let me know what you think of the 'War Flag' and what it means to you? Just respond to this post below. I would love to hear what you have to say and to keep this constitutional, geopolitical conversation going. Thanks.