Mel Ziegler (American, b.1956) has been exploring themes of national symbols and civic engagement throughout his career. Since the 70s (when he collaborated with the late Kate Ericson) his practice has often involved members of the community as a strategy to making art. In this case the weathered American flag was collected by the artist as he traveled across the country, offering a brand new flag in exchanged for the tattered one, and encouraging a conversation with it’s owner.
Once framed, the found object recalls the Readymade - as Duchamp had defined it - taking an ordinary item from everyday life, stripping it of its function and creating a new purpose for that object. This work is part of an ongoing series (since 2009) consisting of 50 individually framed flags, one from each American state.
Furthering the exploration of this theme, a monumental installation, composed of flags from all 50 states, each one embroidered with their names, was recently exhibited under the name "Flag Exchange" in several institutions amongst which the San Francisco Art Institute, the Francis Young Tang Teaching Museum (Saratoga, NY) and Federal Hall (New York, NY).