john hemmen art
 

Statement for Symbols and Flag Paintings







Symbols are ubiquitous entities in human society.  They have been created to represent a constellation of beliefs, an enterprise or business, a society, or almost any grouping of things.  They are an abbreviation that reminds people of that particular entity.  Examples include flags, crosses, the American Eagle, mathematical symbols, advertising logos like the Nike swoosh, and even words.

I have been featuring certain symbols in my paintings for years.  Most of the symbols I feature are emotionally charged in that lots of people are vested in that symbol.  National flags are this kind of symbol, so there is much fertile ground in manipulating this symbol.  My flag paintings each feature a subject within the flag that is particularly American.  This subject is embedded within or becomes the stars and stripes.

For example, my salmon flag has a fluidity that shows salmon swimming in the flag and mounted on the flag in various stages of life.  Salmon are American both before and during the existence of the United States.  They symbolize an emotional tie to a life when man lived more in harmony with nature, just as the salmon is still trying to do.  Salmon are a symbol of an America that is trying to hold on to its history while also accepting that history is a fluid medium that carries change.

My flag series is ongoing.