Gallery To Explore Apolitical Theme, but Controversial Medium
June is set out to be a month of exciting art events with fiber art and artists in the spotlight as Pittsburgh hosts the Fiber Arts International starting Saturday, June 3rd. Concurrently, local Lawrenceville art space Vestige Concept Gallery will be hosting the opening reception of their latest exhibit “On Neutral Ground;” featuring a fiber artist whose work explores the deeper meaning of a controversial fiber: flags.
Kevin Clancy, is a self-described patriot and MFA graduate of Savannah College of Art and Design, who has dedicated untold hours deconstructing American flags into piles of colored threads, as an exploration of their deeper meaning. In some works, he goes further by reconstructing the pieces and threads into new objects, often resembling the original but with altered symbolic elements.
Though Clancy’s process may seem anti-patriotic at first impression, his motives are far from it. “I’m the son of a veteran, nephew of a veteran, grandson of a veteran–I’m the first person in my family who didn’t join the military,” he explains. The dissection of the flag is Clancy’s way of understanding and revealing the complex fabric of America. In its reconstruction, he prefers to use the word “suturing” meaning to fix, or to heal; his own way of mending the country back together.
“I really love this symbol. But it also is just a symbol, and if it stands for freedom and we don’t have the freedom to look critically at it and think about what it means and what we do in its name, then where are we?”
Clancy’s artwork “No. 34, Skinned,” will be on display as part of Vestige Concept Gallery’s “On Neutral Ground” Exhibit running from June 4th through July 1st. A bleached, upside-down flag strung up using sinew, Clancy points out the upside-down flag is “a sign of distress.” Through bleaching, some of the pink tones still show faintly through the all-white flag that he equates to a fleshy, corporeal form. He adds, “When in this position, the flag only reaches out to you when it either needs you (in distress) or when reversed towards danger, wants to use you for a purpose (to march in).” On its own, he says, it remains an object that is “calcified, unmoving, unchanging, and is open to greater dialogue”.
“On Neutral Ground” opens Saturday, June 4th at 6PM. Vestige Concept Gallery, 5417 Butler Street, 15201.
Photo courtesy of Kevin Clancy