The Plumas Arts Gallery, at 525 Main St. in Quincy, will host a reception Friday, Feb. 1, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., for an installation by Rafael Blanco, Feather River College art instructor and the Town Hall Theatre mural artist, titled Made in USA.
Blanco describes the exhibition in the following excerpts from his artist statement.
His opinion is that “the purpose of the artist should not be to impose personal views or opinions, but rather to ignite and to motivate the viewers to enquire about their ‘ordinary’ environment.”
In his observation, he has found that “The society in the United States, like most of societies around the world, is full of paradoxes and inconsistencies. However, we tend not to question what is accepted as normal because we tend to adapt to our environment by following customs, traditions and rules.”
Made in USA is not just a critique or an adoration of the American culture, but a combination of these concepts, as well as any grey areas in between.
“As an immigrant, probably the first visual element that affected me the most (and still does), was the multi-use of the American flag in popular culture,” he said. “Coming from a foreign country (Spain), where growing up I could not have any symbol of the national flag without being accused of being a fascist, I could never imagine that on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, the opposite reality was true. Since patriotism is nurtured in elementary schools across the United States, children learn from a very early age that to be patriotic is the norm.”
He added, “For those of us living in the United States during the 9/11 attacks, it is unquestionable the scar left impregnated in all of us. First, we were confronted with a recorded reality that we did not even know was possible outside the special effects of Hollywood studios. Second, we experienced it repeatedly. We saw the same footage hundreds of times, from as many different angles possible, making it permanent in our long-term memory. Lastly, it affected American patriotism forever.”
Blanco has observed that, “The meaning of patriotism has changed with presidencies, world conflicts, and new generations. Even though the love for the country has always been embedded in American society, the way patriotism is expressed and communicated has been transformed.”
Made in USA invites the viewer to love American culture as it is, as well as to be confused by it. There are no simple answers, only complex responses begging the question: What does patriotism mean for you?