Aaron Fein: White Flags

Large scale installation spanning the entire Downtown Mall

Due to abnormally high winds, the installation was removed.  


Presented by the Associated General Contractors of Virginia (AGCVA)

The White Flags installation recreates all 193 flags of the countries in the United Nations, embroidered white on white. Throughout March and April, these flags will be installed among the trees on the Downtown Mall. This large scale installation will span the entire length of the mall.

Fein was inspired by a hopeful symbol that, in the face of continued and dramatic change, people the world over might ultimately see themselves as members of a single human family. Initially conceived of post 9/11, their creation was aided by community sew-ins. The flags have continued to have a rich life both nationally and globally; displayed at Vassar College, Union Theological Seminary, and at the Israel/Palestine Race for Peace.

This installation was made possible by Ed Stelter of Faulconer Construction and the Associated General Contractors of Virginia, who installed the project entirely pro-bono.

Aaron Fein’s new work in the medium of large format digital embroidery can be seen throughout the month of April 2016 at the Bridge PAI. See TORUS Event.

Artist Statement:

Of all the symbols we human beings possess, flags are unique in the way they possess us in return. Whether we are born under them or adopt them, whether we champion them or revile them, as we grapple with national flags, our minds never seem to question their permanence.

But the flags we wave today aren’t necessarily the flags that will fly tomorrow. History is full of symbols that have lost their meaning. Flags, like countries and borders, are in fact ever shifting like the tides – only too slowly for us to see. ‘White Flags’ by artist Aaron Fein, is a reflection of this gradual evolutionary change. Inspired by the slow-sun-bleaching of post-9/11 American flag bumper stickers, ‘White Flags’ re-imagines our world – signified by the amassed states of the United Nations – by rendering its 193 member’s flags without any colors at all.

Like all of Aaron Fein’s work, the flags challenge viewers to simultaneously hold in their minds two seemingly contradictory truths. Gently flying in the breeze, each flag, asserts either its specific identity, in silhouette or an anonymous white, reflected by the sun. This ever-changing nature of the display serves to remind us of the often forgotten but undeniable truth, that we are BOTH distinct from AND interconnected with everyone else on our planet.


Aaron Fein

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