Installation at the National TheatrePrayer Flags for Detroit Acrylic paint on found fabric 2014
Prayer Flags for Detroit aims to focus on the problems and dreams of Detroit through the eyes of the community itself. The homemade flags are modeled after Tibetan prayer flags, traditionally hung around homes, villages, and sacred sites and are believed to ward off evil spirits and bring luck to those touched by the winds that pass through the flags. Instead of using the traditional dyed cottons and mass woodblock printing, the flags are made out of the scraps of ordinary life and people, including clothing, doilies, handkerchiefs, napkins, tablecloths, pillowcases and curtains. Images of Detroit’s triumphs, the dreams of Detroiters and most importantly, the toughest of Detroit’s struggles are hand-painted onto each fabric flag. The line of scrappy prayer flags thus is reminiscent of a clothesline “airing dirty laundry”, in this case, Detroit’s unpleasant realities. These realities are literalized through hand-painted imagery, emerging from the cloth as either prideful adornment or through the form of a stain on the surface of the fabric, also symbolizing a stain on history. The flags aim to reconnect people with the storyline of Detroit, while also showing the quiet, but strong DIY optimism and activism that exemplifies Detroiters who work to better the city everyday.