I created Perilous Journeys in response to a unique call in April 2020 from Drawing Rooms Gallery in Jersey City for prayer flags. Prayers for the Pandemic; Prayers for Progress Volume 2 includes a virtual exhibition and catalog which showcases “flags” from across the country. Make it, Hang it, Click it were the directions.
My piece “Perilous Journeys”, references both the physical journey’s migrants and immigrants make in search of sanctuary and safety, as well as the interior emotional passages we are all traversing during these difficult times. The salvaged fabrics of the vertical bands refer to the land borders on either side of the Rio Grande. The transparency of the middle band is more nuanced, its layers revealing multiple images alluding to the hopes that empower so many people.. Repurposed butterfly images have been salvaged from earlier outdoor “Parallel Migration” installations: a bit tattered but still resilient they symbolize the challenges to both the migrants and butterflies . Like much of my work, the Prayers for the Pandemic flags are multi-referential in their sources and allusions. The layering is both physical and conceptual, allowing the viewer to project meanings drawn from their own experiences.
After several thwarted events when the state opened up on June 15th, I took my flag to the local Hillview Farm which had just reopened. The staff, without blinking, gave me permission to install and photograph. I chose to hang Perilous Journey on one of their chicken coops. The dozen or so occupants were quite verbal, perhaps recognizing their symbolic role in this unique call. The location alludes to the many dangers immigrants experience while working in the Tyson Poultry Processing Plants.
A few days later, while waiting in line for Covid 19 testing at Kean University I decided to attach my piece to the dashboard of my car. Both healthcare workers and the occupants of other cars were able to see the my prayer flag. Over several days I continued to leave Perilous Journey on the dashboard where it could be seen 24/7 wherever the car was parked.
The feedback has been positive. I’ve had curious and inviting conversations on the origin of the flag idea and the disjoint between the uniqueness of the materials and the symbolic allusion ot the plight of those migrating and working in our food production.
For more images, publications and interviews on the Prayers for the Pandemic Exhibit, view the online exhibition here.