24 untitled portraits made from American Flag
During the time of war artists often document the enormous emotions that they feel and witness among others in society.
The flag is unfurled by a government that historically has lied to drag the nation into war - from Vietnam to Iraq. Some cheer when they see the flag flying while others have deep feelings of fear and anxiety as they witness the destruction of lives on all sides of the battlefield.
Artists sometimes get frozen inside these emotions and need to release the tensions that engulf them like a fog. Some create pictures, some write poems, others sing songs to help give wider expression to these feelings that are tearing the nation apart but in many ways are also hidden from plain sight.
Our nation's history is a series of moments of conflict, recorded in time by courageous artists, and today a malaise has enveloped our culture fueled by half-truths, deception and lies.
How can people believe in democracy again? What does the flag stand for today? Can America survive when 70% of the people want the war to end but both parties ignore their longing for peace?
The artist raises these questions and many more. Without reflection and healthy debate a nation cannot claim to be a true democracy.
© Copyright Gerald Bud Swenson 2007