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Maus  Contemporary








Walton Creel

born 1974 in Birmingham, AL, lives and works in Birmingham, AL

Flag over Fort Sumter, April 1861

paint and bullet holes in aluminum
ca. 38 by 56 in.

This is a replica of the Flag that flew over Fort Sumter April 12-13, 1861
when the confederates attacked US forces, starting the American Civil War.
The flag survived the battle and went on to tour the North.
It was used to boost morale and raise funds for the Union war effort.
It came to be seen as a symbol of the strength of the Union, even when the flag itself is in the direct line of fire.
This flag, like the original, is full of bullet holes and is covered in burnt gunpowder.

Melissa Vandenberg

born 1977 in Detroit, MI, lives and works in Richmond, KY
1999 BFA, College for Creative Studies, Detroit, MI
2005 MFA (sculpture), Southern Illinois University

Untitled (Flag Study)

cut and folded paper, ink, fingerprints
16 by 20 1/4 in.

“The US flag has become propaganda, as are most flags. It is a vehicle to explore western centric political agendas.
I came of age creatively during Bush era policies, which significantly shaped the way
many artists of my generation make work.
We are suspicious of those in power, yet many of us still carry a great deal of hope and idealism.

Untitled (Flag Study) uses my fingerprints to create an abstract monochromatic flag relief.
The paper substrate has been sliced horizontally and the flag stripes become paper shutters,
raised off the page. The result is far enough removed from the original reference that you may or may not detect its flag-ness,
depending on context. It is neither right nor left, and fails to illicit any outward appearance of pride.”

Florian Heinke

born 1981 in Frankfurt am Main, Germany
lives and works in Frankfurt am Main, Germany
2004 Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz,Professor Friedmann Hahn
2005 - 2009 Staedelschule Frankfurt am Main, Professor Christa Naeher

The System of diplomatic Chaos

acrylic on canvas
30 by 39 in.

Peter Fox

born 1962 in Philadelphia, PA, lives and works in New York
1998    MFA, Tyler School of Art, Philadelphia, PA and Rome, Italy
1988    BA Architecture, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA


acrylic on canvas
small : 30 by 48 in.
large : 46 by 76 1/4 in.

My work in the show began as an open meditation on Jasper Johns' 'White Flag', a loose re-understanding that appropriates
his basic formal elements - graphic flag theme, divided canvas and monochrome palette.
Johns' flag serves as a conceptual jumping-off point - a place to depart rather than arrive.

From there, mine takes a more reductive, minimal tack.  The division of the support is simplified as two equal panels
and gestural brushwork is translated to a uniform, repetitive drip motif, becoming an abstraction of Johns' already abstract flag.
The image of the flag is no longer foregrounded, but hovers near (or just below) the threshold of conscious perception.
Its flagness is mute, sensed instead of seen   -  an un-flag.

While working on it, I was cognizant of white flags as surrender signals.
Perhaps that's how this work operates - as a release - a letting go - of
identity, control, expectation.  An opening up.  A freedom?

Interestingly, both flags "reveal" the existance of the American flag
within the paintings when certain translucent elements
of the painting process are exposed to natural light form a certain angle.
Very hard to see with the eye, it appears when photographed.

Leah Hamel

born 1986 in Birmingham, AL
lives and works in Birmingham, AL
2012 BFA Candidate in ceramics, UAB


earthenware with oxides, wood, metal
ca. 26.5 by 20 by 1 in.

Sculpture, for me, is a way to give life and tangibility to an idea.
My search for self identity has manifested itself in my work through explorations of family and cultural history.
The urban context I live in, juxtaposed with the environment my Native American ancestors existed in,
is one major thread in my work. For Flag, the use of the American flag reconstructed with arrowheads
speaks to geographic history and displacement of Native Americans.
The five white arrowheads placed within the blue field represent the original five tribes of the Iroquois Nation.
I chose to represent the Iroquois Nation because of my Mohawk heritage from my fathers side of my family.
Although I work in many different sculptural mediums, each piece I create has a link to the family ties I explore
and how we are all shaped by our history.

Willie Cole

born 1955 in NJ, lives and works in NJ
attended the Boston University School of Fine Arts,
received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the School of Visual Arts in
New York in 1976, and continued his studies at the Art Students League of
New York from 1976-79.

Stowage study

1997, woodcut, red ink, and red tape on paper
ca. 56 1/4 by 104 3/4 in.

"I think that when one culture is dominated by another culture, the energy or powers or gods of the previous culture hide in the vehicles of the new cultures. . .
I think the spirit of Shango (Yoruba god of thunder and lightning) is a force hidden in the iron because of the fire, and the power of Ogun--his element is iron--is also hidden in these metal objects.

Stowage is a woodcut, and it's made by embedding actual objects into plywood, then inking those objects and the wood itself, and then putting paper with that and burnishing the back of the paper. So, it's probably one of the most primitive styles of printmaking. I cut holes in the plywood, and then I cut circles to fit the hole, and then I cut the shape of the iron out of the circle that fits the hole, and I put the iron sole into the hole. The reason I did it that way is because I wanted to use the line from the cut as part of the design. I could have just put the iron into the plywood, only cutting out the shape of the iron, but I wanted to have the circle around it also. Then the center panel is actually a piece of plywood where the shape of the ironing board has been cut out and then the ironing board is embedded in that. The word "stowage" refers to human cargo on a ship,
transporting slaves to the so-called "new world." I discovered this image in a history book that I had received when I was a kid called Ebony Guide to Negro History. It came out in maybe 1965, and they had this chart that showed the slave ship. It's a very popular image, it's probably in most history books. They don't show you the real serious, heart–wrenching images. They show you the drawing of the ship, and the drawing of the slaves stacked like sardines. As soon as I saw that image, it looked like an ironing board to me. And the same way I have a collection of irons, at that time I had a collection of ironing boards too. So I chose one that had lots of detail, because there were lots of slaves stashed or stuffed in every ship. And the iron images around there can represent the way the slaves were laid into the ship, or they can represent the various tribes that each African came from, before they became slaves in the U.S. So it's kind of like a chart, too, to indicate these things. The piece is made as a woodcut because I wanted
the patterns in the plywood to simulate the patterns in the ocean.

While Willie Cole was growing up in New Jersey, his grandmother and great-grandmother worked as housekeepers and they often asked him to fix their irons. When he moved into his first artist studio, he brought 15 broken irons with him. For Cole, this common household appliance has a number of connotations: domestic servitude, African rituals of scarification, and an African heritage of "branding"--identifying particular tribes by way of shields or masks. To make the print Stowage, he grouped several different makes of irons (Silex, General Electric, Sunbeam) around an ironing board that is meant to represent a slave ship. The marks of the various irons evoke members of different African tribes who may have been brought to America aboard such a vessel.