Jennifer Lanski
U.S. Flag Code Series
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“3512 Arizona St.”     Fountain pen, india ink, and colored pencil on BFK Rives paper     16” × 22”     2006–2007

The “U.S. Flag Code” series consists of 37 drawings, each depicting a residence displaying the American flag, with an accompanying text taken from the U.S. Flag Code. The title of each work gives the street address of the residence depicted. Also in the drawing is text giving the location of the residence and the month that the drawing was made. Each drawing was made on-site, usually from a vantage point across the street, usually in one sitting over several hours, but occasionally over the course of multiple days or visits to the location. All locations were reached on foot from the artist's residence/studio, which was at the time in the North Park neighborhood of San Diego.

The sections of the flag code that were used are those detailing how the flag should be displayed and treated, and how these given rules and customs may be changed; divided into subsections there are 37, hence 37 drawings. (The sections of the flag code describing what the flag should look like, etc., were not included.)

The drawings were inspired by the artist's walks around her neighborhood, and the observation that many residences chose to display the American flag (and not just on special days when it is especially recommended in the flag code), which was a notable and obvious difference from other neighborhoods in which the artist had previously resided. Contemplating the intentions or message of each individual residence displaying the flag, the artist researched the established rules and practices governing the display of the flag, collected and specified as rules and customs without the force of law, in the U.S. Flag Code. Interestingly, some residences violate one or more of these rules, likely through their ignorance of the flag code rather than willful disrespect. Also interesting is the number and specificity of the rules and customs governing the display of the flag, which for many Americans is a symbol of freedom (rather than rules and restrictions). This is in contrast to the ways flags are perceived in some other countries; in the Netherlands, for example, the flag is most commonly displayed in celebration of an event, such as a birthday, marriage, or graduation. And there is no long list of codified rules about its use and display.

The drawings are black and white, with the exception of the flag(s), which are drawn in color, to call attention to this important element in the drawing and reason for choosing the specific residence to depict. Some residences displayed other flags in addition to the American flag; these are also depicted in color.

A selection of drawings from the “U.S. Flag Code” series has been exhibited in Los Angeles.