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Norton Museum of Art Looks at Flags and Their Meaning

The Norton Museum of Art presents Dave Cole: Flags of the World.   The installation, by contemporary artist Dave Cole, features a 15 x 28.5 foot, American flag quilted together using the red, white, and blue fabric of the 192 flags in the United Nations/Flags of the World set.  The remnants of these now-compromised flags are scattered on the gallery floor beneath the flag, creating a kaleidoscope of color.

“Dave Cole’s Flag of the Worlds is part of a long tradition of artists who use the American flag as their subject”, said curator Cheryl Brutvan.  From Jasper Johns to David Hammons, artists have appropriated this emblem of American culture to make artistic statements as well as foster discussions about societal and cultural

Over the past decade, Cole has become known for his examination of ubiquitous American icons and objects, often enlarging them to create new moments of discovery and exploration.  In Flags of the World the installation of this American emblem is purposefully left open to multiple interpretations, which can encompass a range of reactions.

“Museums have a duty to present diverse art, thought-provoking art, and art that speaks to the zeitgeist”, says director Hope Alswang.   We look forward to engaging the community in a wide-ranging dialogue about the intersection of art and politics, as well as the meaning of patriotism and nationalism.

In conjunction with Cole’s Flags of the World  installation, the Museum is presenting Rapt in the Flag: Conversations about an American Emblem with participation from the artist and local scholars and experts:

Dec. 8, 2011

Origins and Meanings of the Flag, a lecture and discussion, featuring Robert Watson, Professor of American Studies, Lynn University

Jan. 12, 2012

Politics of the Flag: A Conversation with the Artist, featuring Randy Schultz, Editorial Page Editor of The Palm Beach Post

Cole, who graduated with a B.A. in Fine Arts from Brown University in 2000, came to national prominence in 2003, when he knitted a 16 by 16-foot, monumental teddy bear using Fiberglas insulation.  In 2005, at Mass MOCA, he created a piece known as The Knitting Machine.   Outfitting two John Deere excavators with utility poles, he knitted red, white, and blue felt into a 35- by 20-foot American flag.

The Norton Museum of Art is a major cultural attraction in Florida, and is internationally known for its distinguished permanent collection featuring American Art, Chinese Art, Contemporary Art, European Art and Photography.  

The Norton is located at 1451 S. Olive Ave. in West Palm Beach, FL, and is open Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Thursday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Closed on Mondays and major Holidays).  General admission is $12 for adults, $5 for visitors ages 13-21, and free for Members and children under 13.  Special group rates are available.  West Palm Beach residents receive free admission every Saturday with proof of residency. Palm Beach County residents receive free admission the first Saturday of each month with proof of residency.  For additional information call 561-832-5196, or visit

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