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Long May She Wave: A Graphic History of the American Flag
October 25, 2008 - February 22, 2009
The Nevada Museum of Art will examine the design of the American flag in the exhibition Long May She Wave: A Graphic History of the American Flag. From Civil War-era flags and Native American moccasins to political campaign buttons and heirloom quilts, Long May She Wave: A Graphic History of the American Flag assembles thousands of American flag-related objects and artifacts from the private collection of Kit Hinrichs, one of the world's leading graphic designers and a partner in the international design firm, Pentagram. Long May She Wave: A Graphic History of the American Flag is scheduled for exhibition from October 25, 2008 through February 22, 2009 and is planned to coincide with the 2008 United States presidential election. (left: Thirty-six-star flag, circa 1865, wool bunting with cotton stars)
One of the most recognizable icons in the world today, the American flag has enjoyed a long history of graphic renderings and artistic re-interpretations. Although the Continental Congress agreed in 1777 that the United States flag should be comprised of stars and stripes in red, white, and blue, more than a century passed without formal design regulations -- yielding a wealth of exuberant and unbridled creative manifestations of the national banner. Far from being a static symbol, the flag has been the subject of countless graphic interpretations over its 224-year history, each version owing more to the personality of the maker than to established formal conventions.
Nowhere are these continual changes better examined than in the collection amassed by graphic designer Kit Hinrichs. In this unique collection, "the flag is presented in an extraordinary array of celebratory, ceremonial, political, commercial, and artistic settings," according to Gerard C. Wertkin, Director of the American Folk Art Museum.
Themes examined in the exhibition include: the flag in celebration, featuring items such as decorative ornaments, home items, and sports memorabilia; the flag in commerce, as seen on magazine covers, product packaging and advertisements; the flag in art and folk art, with crocheted flags, quilts and artists' renderings; the flag at play, with wooden blocks, parade parasols, party horns, and various toys; the flag in politics and protest, with posters, buttons and miscellaneous campaign collateral; the flag in Native American art, with woven blankets, beaded coin purses, gloves, and moccasins; and the flag at war, with battle-flown flags from the Civil War and Korean Conflict, as well as war medals and memorabilia ranging from pennants to whiskey flasks. (right: Toy Soldier Flag Bearers, not dated, metal, ceramic, and composition miniatures)
A special feature included in the exhibition Long May She Wave: A Graphic History of the American Flag, is a selection of quilts ranging from a Centennial-era creation to a contemporary work designed for the Lands' End catalogue.
United States patriotism and quilting have a long and close history, often visually represented through the incorporation of the American flag into the quilt designs. This connection is evident in several works highlighted in the exhibition, including: the 36-star Log Cabin quilt (signifying Nevada's statehood), as well as a Victorian-era Crazy quilt -- an exceptional example of the quilting technique best known for its mosaic appearance and randomly-shaped pieces.
Other highlighted works in the exhibition include a 36-star flag circa 1865, a World War II-era work assembled from postage stamps and U.S. Postal Service cancellation marks on envelopes, as well as buttons and postcards from historic presidential campaigns.
Kit Hinrichs' collection of American flags and stars and stripes memorabilia totals nearly 5,000 objects. Hinrichs is co-author of several books, including Stars and Stripes, Vegetables and Typewise. His work has been exhibited internationally and is in the permanent collections of the Museums of Modern Art in New York and San Francisco.
(above: Lakota Gauntlet Gloves, circa 1960, glass beads and leather)
(above: Terry Heffernan, Great American Sport, 1995, color photograph)
This exhibition is accompanied by the book Long May She Wave: A Graphic History of the American Flag, available for purchase in The Store at the museum.
Selected wall texts for the exhibition
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