Artist Jay Bright, whose blue and yellow Amerikrainian Flags series is on view virtually through July 17, will present an Artist Talk on Thursday, July 7 at 6pm at the Ely Center of Contemporary Art, 51 Trumbull Street in New Haven.
“This series of inscrutable, imagined flags connects to the weight of world news and my inner life. I hesitate to interfere with the viewer’s interpretation, so only supply the clue of the upside-down American flag being a distress symbol. The moods range from celebratory, puzzling and lost in the fog of war,” Jay Bright explains.
Bright started making a few small Ukrainian flags to put in his windows. Out of nowhere, he began drafting the US flag canton (rectangle for the star field) and stripe pattern. He laid out the star field (a few short due to a drafting mistake) and enjoyed X-ing in the stars. He added yellow stripes because the original field was too orange. Later, he added lighter blue stripes to lighten the top field. Unsatisfied with the remaining orange, Bright scribbled more yellow and blue to punch up the color, finally arriving at an image where the US flag is almost totally obscured--suggesting the fog of war. More recently, he has been inverting and mirroring the elements to get reflections and inscrutable jumbles.
Alexander Nemerov, Chair of the Stanford Department of Art and Art History, states, “Looking at the flags on the website (elycenter.org/digital-grace), I think of how the artist makes his own nation, his own land, upside down and virtual, a real matter of actual materials that is yet a figment of the imagination. Benedict Anderson’s book about consciousness in nation states, Imagined Communities, comes to mind; but the artist’s imagination is beholden to no one’s but his own, even as he reaches out to those of similar allegiance, those who might be moved by seeing the flag of an unknown country, and spread this sign of belonging and disaffiliation in the world. His flags do not flutter, they are small, they are private, and they are on the ground (at least in the first photograph on the website). To be underfoot, but not downtrodden, is the fate and state of one’s own nation, a private path of few and forgotten steps, amid the worlds of conflict on which the artist draws.”
So far, the works are small, 4” x 6” - 8 ½” x 11”. They are done in water-soluble pencil, watercolor, ink, graphite and colored pencils, acrylic, gouache, and archival ink jet on colored mat board, Stonehenge paper, and on 20# bond with Krylon Preserve It! spray. The prints cannot have the glow of the computer screen, so Bright is happy to have a digital show that celebrates the brilliance he found by editing in Picassa, a primitive version of Photoshop. The collection has grown to 124 images, including prints displayed in windows in distant locations.
Amerikrainian Flags is on view virtually at www.elycenter.org/digital-grace. Jay Bright will present an Artist Talk at the Ely Center of Contemporary Art, 51 Trumbull Street in New Haven on Thursday, July 7 at 6pm. For more information or to donate, please visit www.jaybrightart.com.