Oakland Tribune

Silk-Screened Stars and Stripes

September 7, 2002
Cecily Burt, Staff Writer

Five Miles of Flags to Mark September 11

Artist to unfurl silk-screened Stars and Stripes banners in homage to victims as the first anniversary of September 11 draws near, people around the world will have an array of emotions -- trepidation, fear, sadness, anger, hope. Some may want to be alone, others may want to share their feelings.

For Pop Zhao, a celebrated Chinese-American artist who holds the record for creating the longest artwork in the world -- the 10,000-meter Olympic Dragon unfurled on the Great Wall of China on June 23, 2001 -- the anniversary is an opportunity for a large-scale performance art event to bring diverse communities together to remember the victims. Zhao has created silk-screened banners of 3,200 American flags as a celebration of life and tribute to the victims and survivors of September 11. When unfurled and lined up, the 23 sections will stretch five miles. The flags highlight the spirit of America, its freedom, values and beliefs; five different background colors signify the diverse communities in the United States, which gather strength from unity, he said.

Expression of Solidarity

"As an artist, it is my responsibility to create an artwork that brings people of different communities together to express our feeling of solidarity with the nation and the world," Zhao said. "Sept. 11 was a tragedy not only for one country. ... The impact is to the whole world and all the human beings living on this planet," he said.
"There was death and difficulties, but we have hope, and we need to celebrate life. We think life is forever, but after a tragedy we see life is fragile. We have to treasure it and enjoy it."Event at Golden Gate Bridge Zhao said he chose to hold the event at the Golden Gate Bridge as a tribute from the West Coast to the East Coast. Many volunteers will unfurl the flags following a ceremony at the toll plaza at 9:05 a.m. on September 8.

The route will follow the San Francisco coast with one section being unfurled at Crissy Field and the other at Baker Beach. The effect will be like flower petals opening outward from the Golden Gate Bridge, Zhao said. "The flag will be constantly moving in waves, like the Pacific Ocean waves," he said.

The City of Oakland is one of Zhao's sponsors. Zhao is seeking volunteers to help hold the banners from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.
To volunteer or obtain more information, send e-mail to volunteer@celebratetheflag.com , call (415) 664-2348, or just show up at 7:30 a.m. on Sunday at either Baker Beach or Crissy Field.