U.S.-Mexico Friendship Flag
2013-2020. Digital; mixed media, 40×70″
This unofficial flag of the United States doubles as a symbol of the country’s friendship with its southern neighbor by incorporating elements of American national identity into the 4:7 composition of the flag of Mexico. The vertical tricolor trades green, white, and red for red, white, and blue; the golden eagle for the bald; the cactus for an olive branch; and the rattlesnake for a scroll that reads “E PLURIBUS UNUM” (out of many, one).
The International Friendship Flag Project is an initiative inspired by sister cities, twin towns, and other efforts (symbolic and diplomatic) to build international cooperation, promote cultural understanding, and stimulate economic development. Participation is open to all. The flag shown here serves as one example, encouraging worldwide contributions and the exchange of original creations in a borderless public domain.
Maxims (400 BC-2020)
Deco Art Gallery, Oakland
2020. Two 5×2’ inkjet prints, teak, leather; digital
The artist prepared this text graphic and installation during the 2020 COVID-19 shelter-in-place. Responding to the question of how the lockdown affected his art-making practice, he stated:
“Perhaps introspection is the logical outcome of involuntary social isolation. Certainly for myself this has been the case. Introspection for me, however, was less a search within for “my truth,” and more a search without for the truth.
During this search I studied Jenny Holzer’s Truisms (1978-87), an eight-foot long photostat of 86 original “truisms” housed in the permanent collection of The MoMA. Among her many adages are “SELF-AWARENESS CAN BE CRIPPLING,” “ANY SURPLUS IS IMMORAL,” and “BEING SURE OF YOURSELF MEANS YOU’RE A FOOL.”
I discovered the Delphic Maxims, a set of 147 ancient Greek proverbs inscribed into the walls of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi (4th century BC) and attributed to its High Priestess, the Pythia. The best known of these are the three that greeted visitors: “KNOW THYSELF,” “NOTHING IN EXCESS,” and “SURETY BRINGS RUIN.”
After comparing, contrasting, and dwelling on these texts, I became interested in putting Holzer and the High Priestess in dialogue for others by presenting the ancient Maxims as a printed text installation, resembling one of Holzer’s own. The project is a nod to her, who, alongside the Pictures Generation, legitimized pithy statements and appropriation as means of fine art-making. More importantly, it is an opportunity to place ancient wisdom under contemporary scrutiny, artistic contemplation, and personal reflection.”