“My flags are somewhat the worse for wear.” — Kathleen Loomis
Political art can be a misnomer; on some level all of art is, by its very existence, ‘political’, and more overt statements are often best realized in simple terms. In her most recent work, Kathleen Loomis has been working with the American flag, appropriate both in that she is a fiber artist, and that there is arguably no symbol that carries more emotional and thematic weight than the Red, White, and Blue.
“The flag is a stand-in for our country, so flags in distress convey feelings about the state of our democracy. Even beyond the disturbing recent elections, it seems that so many things in government and our legal system are going downhill. Maybe our nation and its democratic ideals aren’t as crisp and bright as they used to be; as a nation we are getting weary and have lost our mojo, so my flags are somewhat the worse for wear.”
Loomis’ statement may reveal a particular position, and the images are equally straightforward, yet they do not limit themselves by pointing to cause or solution. There are protocols for flying the flag that reinforce that it is also a vital tool for communication – flown upside down it is a symbol of distress to approaching forces, so co-opting it as a motif in visual art feels natural. “Kentucky Graveyard” and “Postage 3 Memorial Day” powerfully comment on the cost of freedom by echoing the flag-draped caskets of deceased military returning from foreign wars, while “More Equal Than Others” speaks to the inequity that has always been a struggle in American society. Loomis may have current events on her mind, but these themes are forever with us.
You can keep up with Loomis through a lively and informative blog on her website. Loomis joined Pyro Gallery in 2016, and is currently a part of the New Year, New Pyro Artists exhibit that runs through February 18, and will be participating in an Artist’s Gallery Talk there on Saturday, January 14, at 12:30pm.
· Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indianapolis, IN, Dialogues, 2016
· Dairy Barn, Athens, OH, and on tour throughout the US, Quilt National ’15, ’11, ’09, and ’03 (Quilts Japan Prize, 2009)
· Jasper Arts Center, Jasper, IN, Annual Juried Art Exhibits, 2001, 2004, 2006, 2011, 2015 (award of merit), 2011, Best in Show, 2015).
Hometown: Saginaw, Michigan
Education: BA in Journalism, Syracuse University; MSJ Northwestern University
Written by Keith Waits. Entire contents copyright © 2016 Louisville Visual Art. All rights reserved.