As an artist whose primary work is narrative, I’m constantly experiencing the world around us and integrating that experience onto the painted surface. One of the appearing more and more in my paintings is that of the Stennis Flag, a proposed new state flag for the state of Mississippi. Designed by a friend of mine, I love the visual elegance of the flag’s design, as well as the symbolism she’s put into the elements through her studies of vexillology (the study of flag design). To read about the symbolism, go here: https://declaremississippi.com/stennisflagsymbolism-2/
As I’ve been traveling with my son this month, I’ve been away from the studio, so the painting I’ve been doing has been in my tiny watercolor sketchbook, with my tiny watercolor and gouache set. I love this kind of work for pushing my brain and eyes to integrate the visual world around onto the two-dimensional surface.
We’ve been traveling as a group of four - my son, his dear friend-since-toddlerhood, Ashleigh and I. The four of us have had some great conversations. Some silly and very in the moment, but we’ve also been doing a lot of talking about the state of the world. Two adults and two young teens watching and listening to news, seeing pumper stickers of hop and hate, discussing confederate flags waved on private land, and asking why Mississippi still has a confederate flag on its state flag. Such great questions come from my son and his friend. And while we can participate and add to the discussions, we certainly don’t have all the answers.
Next week we will celebrate our nation. Flags will be waved and fireworks set off. Families and friends will gather. We will reflect on what this nation stands for. And there’s so much good for which it stands. There’s also so much to improve. And some downright horrid. These dear tender young men are viscerally horrified at the treatment of asylum seekers, the caging of children, the danger to friends of theirs, our fellow citizens, just in walking down the street, the crime of just having been born a person of color.
In addition to our colorful discussions, and in addition to taking advantage of being in the midst of summer - swimming and traveling, and playing board and card games, they do often retreat into their screens. They play video games, and watch really lame videos, and really I don’t blame them, but I would like to think we adults are going to work to give them some hope. That we will take the image of treason and genocide off of our state flag. That we will put up the new and the good.