2/19/24: Files for miles

Valeria R -

On my first day at PhxArt, my site advisor Aspen showed me the archives of one particular exhibit at the museum from 1996 called Old Glory: The American Flag in Contemporary Art. This exhibit became quite infamous due to its controversial displays of the American Flag, like setting it on the ground for people to step on or hanging it out of a toilet. Visitors of the exhibit were encouraged to jot down their thoughts, which resulted in a wide variety of comments reflecting the larger scope of American politics in the 90s. I found this exhibit and the public’s reaction fascinating, and part of my project will now include organizing the files for the archives at PhxArt which I will begin doing in the coming weeks. I’m very excited to have found a project that examines the intersections of art, history, and politics.

I spent most of my week familiarizing myself with the exhibit, reading through its catalogue, visitor comments (I didn’t get through all of them; there are six huge binders filled with them), and New York Times articles covering the fuss it caused.

Six binders overflowing with visitor comments from Old Glory in 1996. Below are some examples!
Comment from Allie Manch, 5/1/96: "Putting a flag in a toilet is not art. It takes absolutely no talent to put a flag in a toilet. Shock value does not equal art!"
Comment from Bob Cassady, 3/16/96: "This exhibit is a show of strength of a great place & state of mind. Nowhere else could we saw these things. Artists are the guide to humanity + the conscience to thinkers. Phx. Art. Mus. is our cultural strength and a good example of intellectual 'no fear'"
Anonymous comment, 3/20/96: "Filth, nothin but filth, I can't believe that filth, I'm disgusted by that filth, that's what it is, filth!!! FILTH!"
Anonymous comment, 3/20/96: "Most avant garde artists will never ask the viewer to agree with their message. But most will demand the freedoms to produce their work. I thank the Phoenix Art Museum for stepping to the front on the war against oppression, stereotypes, racism, bigotry, hate"

On Friday, I spent all day meandering around the museum. I visited the new Barbie exhibit, which I highly recommend for everyone to see. It displayed the very first Barbie doll released in 1959! I also visited the museum’s library where they keep copies of Vogue Magazine since it started back in 1892.

The very first Barbie


More Posts


All viewpoints are welcome but profane, threatening, disrespectful, or harassing comments will not be tolerated and are subject to moderation up to, and including, full deletion.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *