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Photos by Lexi Coon.
Birmingham artist Ira Hill has reopened the discussion of freedom and compassion by bringing out the giant steel flag from his art project, American Expressions, for downtown Birmingham to write their thoughts about America.
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Photos by Lexi Coon.
Tiffany Hampton writes "Love Trumps Hate" on the American Expressions flag on Jan. 20.
Freedom of speech is one of the main pillars of the American way, and Birmingham artist Ira Hill is adding art to that declaration.
Through his art project, American Expression, Hill has encouraged freedom and compassion from all Americans by asking them to write what they think about the country on a giant 8-by-16-foot steel American flag, a flag that has since returned from a nationwide tour. Much of what is written reflects current politics, but some also share hope and love for the future.
Although the art project works to promote freedom and compassion, he said that at first, his tour was to promote freedom and tolerance. That is until a guest in Louisville told him that tolerance is “the skin of hate,” and if he was going to drive around the country, he might as well promote compassion.
The tour first began on July 4, 2016 from Birmingham and continued to the East coast, the Midwest and the West Coast, with stops with various cities along the way for a total of 10,000 miles. After each stop, the flag was painted back to its original colors so that others voices could be heard. The tour officially ended in New Orleans around the time election results were finalized, but he said given that today was inauguration day, he wanted to re-open the discussion.
“We probably have a need for more freedom of expression,” he said. “I thought this would be a day to continue the dialogue of freedom and compassion.”
Hill and his flag will be set up outside of Saturn in Avondale starting at around 5 p.m. on Jan. 20 for passers-by to sign and he is planning to bring the flag to the Sister March in downtown Birmingham on Jan. 21 for participants to both sign and paint over.