A new art instillation at a flagship state university has left many alumni baffled. The American flag was taken down recently. In its place, the university is flying an American flag that has been defaced as part of an art exhibit. The flag has been covered with stylized black lines and what appear to be splotches of paint. There’s also what looks to be a sock.
The display went up at the University of Kansas and is part of an art installation at the university’s Spencer Museum of Art called, “Pledges of Allegiance.”
“The defaced and desecrated flag is the work of Josephine Meckseper,” Fox writes.
“The flag is a collage of an American flag and one of my dripped paintings which resembles the contours of the United States,” Meckseper wrote on Creative Time’s website.
“I divided the shape of the country in two for the flag design to reflect a deeply polarized country in which a president has openly bragged about harassing women and is withdrawing from the Kyoto protocol and UN Human Rights Council.”
The defaced flag being flown as part of the art instillation is, as the artist attests, a statement against President Trump.
“The black and white sock on my flag takes on a new symbolic meaning in light of the recent imprisonment of immigrant children at the border,” she said.
Meckseper was born in Germany.
“Let’s not forget that we all came from somewhere and are only recent occupants of this country – native cultures knew to (take) care of this continent much better for thousands of years before us,” she said. “It’s about time for our differences to unite us rather than divide us.”
Fox spoke with the university. A spokesperson confirmed that the flag is from “the nationwide ‘Pledges of Allegiance’ public arts project that went up July 5 and is at 13 locations nationwide.”
The exhibit, the university notes, is funded by private donations. That hasn’t helped quell the anger of many, including state legislators.
Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach spoke to Fox. “It’s outrageous that you would see a public university displaying a desecrated flag,” Kobach said. “The fact they call it art does not make it any less of a desecration of our flag.”
“I call upon the university to take down that exhibit right away,” he said. “It’s inexplicable why they think it is OK to display an American flag in this manner.”
No word yet on how the backlash may be received by the institution.
As for Meckseper, the backlash seems to be part of her intentions for the flag. “Josephine Meckseper, born in Germany, uses commercial forms of presentation such as vitrines, window displays, and magazines, to demonstrate inextricable influences of consumer culture on society,” her biography reads.
“Meckseper melds the aesthetic language of modernism with the formal language of commercial display, combining them with images and artifacts of historical undercurrents and political protest movements. She approaches her art as a conceptual experiment — throughout her installations and vitrines, by simultaneously exposing and encasing common signifiers, such as advertisements, political symbols, and everyday objects, she creates a window into the collective unconscious of our time.”