“Flags are potent symbols, especially at times like these where we are all thinking about voting in the next election. The shadow of the historically brutal and fraught relationship between Native people and the United States government gives this particular design poignancy in a Native-made artwork. Native American artists have long been attracted to the design of the American flag with its bold stripes and primary colors. This flag has appeared in beadwork and rug designs for over a century, and more recently in contemporary art. Bertha Harvey is a Navajo weaver who used this design to create a beautiful textile that can be interpreted from multiple perspectives, including as a statement of patriotism. The image of this work, in addition to the weaving itself, has also been utilized in the work of other Native American artists as critical commentary.
For example, Demian DinéYazhi’ utilized Harvey’s weaving (upside down) in an installation for the 2016 exhibition, Dene bāhī Naabaahii, a two-person exhibition with Kali Spitzer. There is no doubt that it will continue to be a potent symbol for Native artists for decades to come.”
—Kathleen Ash-Milby, Curator of Native American Art
Bertha Harvey (American and Navajo, born 1955). Flag Rug, 1991. Wool. Gift of Mr. Robert W. Patton, Jr., 2001.72