E Pluribus in Queens

Yesterday was my first talk about the flag series E Pluribus. I am very honored and delighted to be a part of Mayor Bloomberg’s 6th Annual Immigrant Heritage Week and I want to thank Esther Hughes of the Mayor’s office and Doris Jones of the Queens Library Office for their generous assistance in making this happen. I also want to thank Andrew Jackson of Langston Hughes Library and Gina Fazio of the Flushing Library for arranging for the gallery spaces. I also want to thank Susana Galli for inviting me to participate in the International Immigrant Foundation’s gallery show. Thanks also to Jamel Dixon for hanging the Langston Hughes show so beautifully.

There are 4 flags hanging in a lower lobby area of the Flushing Public library and I gave the talk in a very nice adjacent auditorium. It was fun and though the weather was dreadful quite a few hardy souls came out for the discussion. It took me about 2 and a half days to construct my first powerpoint presentation. It was interesting to go back through the completed projects and retrieve the images that inspired them, like edelweiss flowers, keffiya head wraps and bamboo furniture. I am now always looking to find objects that represent the great offerings of the diverse cultures here. I am open to suggestions too. My talk really focused on the value offered by different cultures coming to live together here in the States. It is always about the people, about the value of individuals, about the value of what individuals can do together in groups whether they are tribal, communal, cultural or spiritual. I found myself repeating the idea that I have chosen uplifting symbols to represent these flags.

I feel it is critical to remember the gifts we share together and to emphasize the life affirming symbols and actions that we can celebrate and practice to make our daily experiences better and better. Let’s dance rather than fight, let’s make art instead of bullets and gardens instead of battlegrounds. Everyday we face choices and I personally resolve to choose actions, thoughts and words that affirm life, freedom, liberty and justice for all. Hmmm, I think I read that somewhere.

Anyway, this art project is an exercise in remembering the fantastic ideals written by the founders of this country that created the space for so many diverse cultures to come and live together in harmony. We are an example for the world. Let’s keep it working; kudos to Queens and the diverse residents there who show us all throughout the world how to live together.

I hope you can get to Langston Hughes Public Library in Corona or Flushing Library to see the flags. This Saturday there will be a reception at 1 PM with music by the Senor Lucky Blues Band starting at 2 PM at the Langston Hughes Library. I will give the talk again at 3 PM Saturday and tomorrow I will give it to some groups of school children also at the Langston Hughes Library. I hope to see you there.

Langston Hughes Public Library: April 17th to May 30th during library hours.
100-01 Northern Boulevard, Corona, NY 11368 Contact: (718) 651-1100

Artist’s reception: Saturday, April 25, 1-4PM with Senor Lucky Blues Band at 2PM
Flushing Queens Public Library: April 17th to April 30th during library hours.
41-17 Main Street, Flushing, NY 11355 Contact: (718) 661-1200

Artist’s talk: Monday April 20, 6PM (www.queenslibrary.org)
International Immigrant’s Foundation: April 17th to April 23rd
7 West 44th Street, New York, NY 10036 Contact: (212) 302-2222 (www.10.org)


Today I finally launch the BIG project. You are invited to participate in a brand new E PLURIBUS US FLAG. This one is to celebrate our President Elect Barack Obama. It will be 36 feet wide and 24 feet high and made from cloth pieces 3″ by 6″ from all your different cultures, a true expression of E Pluribus, Unum: one flag out of many. This project is an invocation for a new USA where we work together in harmony, where we willingly through the work of our hands stitch our future together to create something wonderful. The diversity of this country is a magnificent asset and we are already an example of how diverse people can live together with respect.

I have been working to clarify this concept for a few years now and I am only beginning to see a change in the tide of understanding. Let’s keep working on it. We are one country, one humanity, one world, one heart, one spirit but we can be in different places, wearing different clothing, of different colors, dancing different steps, eating different food, making different treasures and celebrating different ideas; that’s what makes life exciting. I love and respect your difference from me, I delight in you being different from me, I enjoy those times and places where we interact, where I learn new things about you and about me. I remember that we are essentially vast beings resounding with potential so let’s play together with respect.

The world is changing and in difficult times we must remember who we are and celebrate our heritage that supports us. Our United States of America heritage is a grand vision, a sacred vision of respect and a vision inspiring to all throughout the world. “One country indivisible”, “freedom and justice for all”, “pursuit of happiness”. These are ideas that belong to all of us and within that we bring with us ideas of community from our personal heritage. We can bring all this together; unify ourselves and unify our community yet still express and celebrate our diversity.
This new E PLURIBUS flag is a project that celebrates, “Made in the USA”. It is a project that promotes respect for all cultural ideas. It is a project that shows patriotism can be of various forms and yet still red, white and blue. Most pointedly it celebrates harmony, like an orchestra we need diversity in order to produce the richest experience of the music of life.

Please join me in making this celebratory US flag out of the symbols of our diverse cultures. To participate check out the participate page on my website; http://www.epluribus.us/site/participate.php. We need about 7,000 pieces of (strong) cloth to stitch together to make this flag. Send a piece of red, or white or blue cloth. You are welcome to embroider, weave, knit, crochet, appliqué or otherwise create a cloth in your style. I would also love to hear if there is a story about your submission but please keep it to a single typed page. Please do not send old treasures that may be weak with age instead frame them and put them on your wall for your descendants.

I welcome you to donate to the construction costs or to volunteer to help in the construction of the flag. Information about how to do this is on the participate page.

I hope that you will join me in creating this flag together. If you are only interested in updates on our progress please sign up to receive emails.