Atonement means reparation for a wrong or injury. This is my act of reparation for those wrongs.
The Atonement Flag Artist Statement
The Atonement Flag commemorates the experience of shared grief during the George Floyd protests. Born from the experience of gathering at the base of the 12 ton, six story statue of Robert E. Lee, in the former capital of the Confederacy, Richmond, Virginia.
People came to organize, educate and protest. They came to play chess, play basketball, plant flowers and be joyful, creating the beloved community. It was a place where people of all races, from all over the country, came to make pilgrimages. They came to see the spontaneous and anonymous expressions of art, on and around the monument, and they came to grieve. The New York Times declared this site the most important public protest art since World War II. This quilt memorializes that pivotal moment in time.
I spent days visiting and photographing the graffiti on four of the thirteen monuments, and the facade of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, with the idea of making a two-sided American Flag from those images. In 2018, I visited six states on a civil rights tour of the South. This pilgrimage educated me on the depth and the tenacity of the white supremacy woven into the fabric of our country. This awareness fuels my grief around racial injustice.
In piecing the quilt together, I wanted to use as many patterns as possible to symbolically include as many voices as possible. The black and white side of the flag was designed to read like a chaotic newspaper.
There are two sides to this flag— the distressed side and the transformed side. The distressed side contains what needs to be healed—the pain, oppression and injustices. The transformed side symbolizes listening and addressing what is on the other side. We are creating something beautiful together by facing the truth of our shared history and using that truth to craft a safe and equitable future for everyone.
The flag was finished in 11 mending parties, over a five day period, where 22 people hand quilted 438 feet of stitching. These volunteers spoke candidly about their experiences and concerns around the state of the United States and its roots in white supremacy. These conversations were honest, respectful and solution based. They were marked with tears, laughter, confessions, prayer and song. I fervently hope that this flag continues to ignite similar healing experiences wherever it is shown.