Welcome to my journey down the rabbit hole.
February 22, 2017
Halloween Eve 2002, New York City, 11:59pm. I opened all my windows and lit a candle, as I do every year—the way I like to spend my Halloween is to be alone with a single candle and meditate with the spirits. After all, it is a Holy Day where the spirits and the living are supposedly connected. While I was meditating, my mind was racing with disgust, anger, and frustration over the invasion of Iraq by the United States. It had been a really depressing and emotional year. But I kept trying to empty my mind and continue meditating, inviting any spirits to come inside if they had anything to say to me.
Some time later … I woke up. I was lying on the ground. I must have fallen asleep while I was meditating. I got myself a drink and sat by my desk trying to wake up. I tried to remember what had happened before I fell asleep. All of a sudden, the image of George Washington came to my mind. President George Washington? I was really confused. Did he come here to see me? Why would he come here? I didn’t think too much more about it, it was getting late. I blew the candle out and went to sleep.
Next night, as usual, Halloween night, I heard loud noises coming from outside, people gathering around to march in the annual New York City Halloween Parade. For some reason, the parade always started from where my studio was at the time, Grand Street and Sixth Avenue. I’d been to the parade many times in the past, but I decided to stay in. Still confused about Washington, I decided to do some research on the Internet. After a couple of hours, I came across a flag I had never seen or heard about before. It was General Washington’s personal flag that he used during the American Revolutionary War. He had a personal flag? Why wasn’t I taught this in school? I was never a good student of American history, but I’d think this flag would be kind of historically important. Gazing at the flag on my computer screen, I was just mesmerized by its beauty. I don’t exactly know how to explain it, but the feelings the flag evoked in me were so familiar yet, at the same time, very new. I needed to find out more about George Washington’s flag.
I had always been making art but, starting from that night of Halloween 2002, my work shifted toward searching for deeper meanings in American symbols. A friend of mine once told me I was a “cultural archaeologist.” I’m not sure if that title suits me, but I was definitely digging deep into something and I couldn’t stop. I was a detective trying to find something that was locked and hidden, and everything seemed so esoteric and mystical. It became my life and my passion. Something took over me that night. I became obsessed like I was possessed.
My story is not meant to be factual, but rather an expression of discovery, hope, and idealism for our country. It is meant to entertain, to question, and to enlighten. It is still a work in progress, much like the United States. It is my pleasure to share my story, and I hope it will be engaging and inspiring.
To Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. Our birthright.