Art Thursday: Raise the Flags

On Thursday afternoon, a faint trumpet was playing in the distance near the Marshall Student Center. It was 7 PM when the Contemporary Art Museum event began and the accompanying trumpeter finished their tune, introducing the multi-media celebration which marked the end of the Raise the Flags: Pledges of Allegiance exhibition at CAM. The project concluded in front of CAM featuring Heard ‘Em Say, a spoken word poetry group, responding to the Pledges of Allegiance flags, a selection of artist-designed flags commissioned by the New York based public art nonprofit Creative Time.

Sarah Howard, Curator of Public Art and Social Practice for CAM, introduced the partnership with Creative Time to present sixteen flags created by acclaimed artists. Mounted on the front of the museum, each flag illustrates a political passion, providing a symbol of allegiance around which to unite, and a call to action for institutions nationwide to also raise the Pledges of Allegiance flags. This initiative was recognized around the United States, as supporters joined together to simultaneously put up the flags in their various locations.

raise crop 01

As a part of the Raise the Flags event at the University of South Florida, seven student speakers from Heard ‘Em Say came up to the microphone and shared their personal stories and the connection to society’s unceasing issues that are particularly apparent in many of the Pledges of Allegiance flag topics. The powerful impact of the performances was paired with Creative Time videos related to the flags hanging above. These videos and speakers touched on the subjects presented by the flags such as environmental crisis, social/political structures and the celebration of friendship, wisdom and love.

The overall event was emotional and reflective for both the performers and the crowd. The flags from the Pledges of Allegiance waved around in the evening wind as the night started to fall.

Autumn Oliver
B.A., English
College of Arts & Sciences
University of South Florida

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