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Apr 5 / admin

Art F(l)ag


At the Urban Institute for Contemporary Art on a day trip to Grand Rapids, I caught this installation of nautical flags by Thea Augustine Eck called “Providence (top three).” Each proud square corresponds to a letter of the alphabet on an available flyer, so the viewer can spell out forlorn phrases like ‘our minds were set upon reaching the haunts of man.’ The website says the piece is based on Sir Ernest Shackleton’s 1914-1917 voyage home after his ship sank off the coast of Antarctica, as told in his autobiography South. The flag language reminded me of a favorite Marsden Hartley painting, “Portrait of a German Officer (left).” And since seeing the exhibit, vintage prints of flags in my house have been speaking to me (below).


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