Starting in the 1960’s, some African Americans have felt that the Pan-African flag, created by Marcus Garvey and the United Negro Improvement Association, did not represent the specific history of African Americans. Many have created flags to fill this void.  The creation of the Pan-African flag and later the various African American flags suggested that African Americans felt their experience was outside the symbolic representation of the American flag. 

 

The election of Barack Obama poses some questions concerning the relevance of an African American flag. Does his presidency make African Americans more central to American identity? Does the American flag now fully represent the history and experience of African Americans? Is there further need for an African American flag?

 

The African American Flag Project is a suite of paintings of African American flags whose purpose is to explore the dialogue of symbolic representation within the African American community. All of the paintings are based on flags that exist in the world, either in design or as actual flags. The African American Flag Project is about the need of some African Americans to create symbolic representations that are more specific to the experience of themselves and their community.

The African American Flag Project

African American Flag Project, installation view, at I-20 Gallery, 2010. photo: Cary Whittier

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African American Flag Project, installation view, at I-20 Gallery, 2010. photo: Cary Whittier

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African American Flag Project, installation view, at I-20 Gallery, 2010. photo: Cary Whittier

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African American Flag Project, installation view, at I-20 Gallery, 2010. photo: Cary Whittier

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African American Flag Project, installation view, at I-20 Gallery, 2010. photo: Cary Whittier

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African American Flag Project, installation view, at I-20 Gallery, 2010. photo: Cary Whittier

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Afro American Flag, 2009-2010
Afro American Flag, 2009-2010

Acrylic on canvas, 36 x 60 in, 91.4 x 152.4 cm. photo: Cary Whittier

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Black American Heritage Flag (after Melvin Charles and Gleason T. Jackson), 2010. Acrylic on canvas, 36 x 60 in, 91.4 x 152.4 cm. photo: Cary Whittier

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The African-American Flag (after Tonya and David Harvey), 2009-2010. Acrylic on canvas 36 x 60 in, 91.4 x 152.4 cm. photo: Cary Whittier

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