February 18, 2021 through June 1, 2021
A window-based exhibition during COVID closure that addresses the American flag as symbol, sign, and material. Featuring the work of Kathie Foley-Meyer, William Shipman, and Shion Svenson.
The exhibition, which faces onto the paseo walkway and is best viewable from 6pm-midnight, features three works that explore the symbolism of the American flag. The title for the exhibition quotes Francis Scott Key’s 1814 poem “Defence of Fort M’Henry,” which became the song “The Star Spangled Banner.” The poem recalls the Battle of Baltimore in 1812, and uses the flag as a central symbol for the uncertain fate of the United States, as well as its eventual victory. Since the song was established as the national anthem in 1931 it has served as a backdrop for American pomp, pride, and protest. In November 2017, the California Chapter of the NAACP called on Congress to remove “The Star-Spangled Banner” as the national anthem, due to the third stanza of the song which refers to slavery. Proof Through The Night shares three distinct approaches to the flag and honors the range of experiences and perspectives that are woven into the symbolism of the American flag and experience.
Viewers will see a mixed media lightbox of an altered parade photograph by Kathie Foley-Meyer, a wheelchair emblazoned with a political bumper sticker, draped with a a flag and neon under fiberglass by William Shipman, and a hand painted flag on corrugated metal serves as the background for a swirl of neon light by Shion Svenson.
“Kathie Foley-Meyer, William Shipman, and Shion Svenson’s works illuminate the flag as a complex, and multivalent icon of the American experience. Their work crosses media, generations, and backgrounds. Proof Through The Night addresses uncertainty of our current political climate through light. The title of the exhibition serves as a reminder of past uncertainties as well as the complicated and fulgid role of symbols as tools of possibility and power.” Says MONA Executive Director Corrie Siegel.
Kathie Foley-Meyer is a mixed-media artist who works with text, photography, and a variety of materials, including glass, wood, and metal. Transparency, visibility, and memory are recurrent themes in her work. Her work mines the personal and historical past, and is particularly interested in narratives that have disappeared from the public consciousness. Since the election of Barack Obama her work has examined the way US elections ushered in a kind of hyper-visibility for black people on the national and world stage. Foley-Meyer’s work examines the threads of optimism and fear that hyper-visibility brings into the national consciousness, speculating on the possibilities and consequences of this way of seeing and being seen.
William Shipman served in the US military during the Vietnam War. His evocative sculptural forms consist of neon tubing draped in fiberglass. The figures bear a relationship to the human form, but also serve as a pupae of something mysterious and possibly menacing, yet to be born. A tattered flag trails behind a 1970’s era wheelchair sporting a “Nixons the one” sticker. Angular neon tubes poke out from the seat of the chair, suggesting and negating a human form hooded in plexiglass.
Shion Kobayashi Svenson painted a series of flags at the age of 4. At age 8 he collaborated with his father David Svenson and added neon shapes and text to a series of American flags. A third generation artist, Shion’s art practice incorporates drawing, mixed media, and LED light sculpture. Currently, electricity is a guiding interest in his work.