It started with an idea. A commemorative project to celebrate Argentinian Independence anniversary, artists Chiachio and Giannone didn’t expect to create the world largest rainbow flag. But they did.
Featured in the Long Beach Pride parade in May, the rainbow flag is a fabric mosaic, constructed of over 3,000 patchwork squares contributed by the lgbtq+ community. The flag, along with “Deconstruccion: A Drag Show” on Saturday June 15, is a part of the current exhibit at the Museum of Latin America Art – “Chiachio & Giannone: Celebrating Diversity” on display until August 4.
The Pride L.A. spoke with the artists and the museum about what it takes to curate such an exhibit. Check it out:
ARTISTS INTERVIEW –
Where did the idea for the flag come from?
In 2018 we were invited to participate in an exhibition at the CCK (Kirchner Cultural Center) in Buenos Aires commemorating the 30th anniversary of democracy in Argentina. For this reason we made a tribute to the LGTBIQ artists of Argentina by developing a series of paintings (textile mosaics) in addition to creating a series of pride flags in different textile techniques (patchwork, crazy quilt, etc.) reusing fabrics, our clothes and those from our friends. As LGTBIQ artists always in our works, the rainbow flag appears in different ways.
How is it reflective of your style/ other works?
The flag is made with fabrics reused and donated by the community. This idea ofreusing materials has interested us for quite some time because there is a clear intention to work with what the world is giving us and giving things a second chance. We are painters of academic formation and this great flag is conceived as a great painting. We selected each of the more than 3,000 squares of fabric and we dyed them, achieving a great variety of color ranges within the spectrum of the rainbow. The 6 colors of the rainbow are colors that are always present in some way in each of the pieces we make.
Can you explain some of the symbolism behind the flag/creating it with the community?
The important thing was to create a Pride Flag at MOLAA during the various workshops we have done both within the museum and in other spaces (LGBT Center of Long Beach, LGBT Center in West Hollywood, etc.) so that people leave positive messages about the diversity. In this way this great flag represents the voices of the whole community. The symbolic value of this work translates into this patchwork / painting 30 feet wide by 112 feet long. 3,360 square feet were needed to carry the voices of the more than 3,000 people who collaborated for this project.
How was the Pride parade?
The Long Beach Pride Parade was amazing and festive. A true celebration of diversity. Another important aspect was that we could see for the first time the flag displayed in its entirety because the room where we made it did not allow it. We also feel the support of more than 130 people to be able to carry it during the parade. As the flag made its way through the parade’s audience, we were able to recognize many people who were present during the creation process, they came to greet us, to thank us and accompanied us on the march.
What have people’s responses to the flag been like?
The people responded positively throughout the process of creating the flag. We started in mid-March at MOLAA, the day we opened the exhibition “Celebrating Diversity” curated by Gabriela Urtiaga and we finished it in mid-May. To create this flag, we have done several workshops with the community (in the LGTB Center of LB and LA; Angels Gate Cultural Center in San Pedro, CA; Dog Day at MOLAA; California State University LB; etc.) where people responded positively, actively participated leaving messages, drawings about their motivations to live in diversity and also donating fabrics for their realization. The flag is made with reused fabrics and dyed in the 6 colors of the rainbow. During these months, the museum gallery became a large laboratory for the production, participation and integration of the members of the community with a single objective: to create the great flag.
What are the future plans for the flag?
The flag will be displayed at the Pride at the Port Festival in San Pedro, CA on June 15th. In this instance, the great flag will be displayed as a piece of public art that will involve a fixed structure. Afterwards, the flag will be on display in MOLAA until the end of our exhibition “Celebrating Diversity” on August 4. Next year, the museum has submitted this project to be presented at other venues. Soon the flag will travel to Argentina to be exhibited in public institutions.
What does “Pride” mean to you?
Pride means that we are all different but we have to have the same rights.
Pride means that we are proud of the human beings that we are following our own desires that are not the “heteronormative” desires that society imposes.
How can people find out more information about you/your artwork? (Website, social media, etc)
MOLAA INTERVIEW –
Can you tell me a little bit about the “Deconstrucction” drag show?
Deconstrucción a drag show is an evening with a high energy drag show emceed by SoCal Queen Xotica Erotica featuring Rupual’s Drag Race Season 2 alum Jessica Wild and performances by LA Drag Stars Melissa Befierce and Paris Diamond. The evening will also include a set by Boyle Heights native DJ Sizzle, a lively marketplace with craft and food vendors, cash bar, photo booth, and various LGBTQI organizations such as Latino Equality Alliance & The Center. Plus a screening of Transvisibile: Bamby Salcedo’s Story by Dante Alencastre highlighting Bamby Salcedo, highly regarded, nationally and internationally recognized trans activist, advocate, community organizer and social justice advocate and professional. Enjoy an interactive activity by the People’s Workshop
How is this show as an extension of the current exhibit?
The event is challenging themes of gender and identity just like the current exhibition does.
What can guests expect from the evening?
An amazing, educating, and energetic night filled with art and entertainment.
What is the overall goal/purpose of the evening (entertain, educate, fundraise, etc.)?
All three. All of MOLAA’s fundraising events also serve as an educational opportunities and this specific event is put together to educate and challenge themes of gender and identity roles. We present this challenge through various elements in the event like the Drag portion but also the art workshop by the People’s Workshop where individuals will be making their own flag to represent their own narrative and what that means to them.
What does “Pride” mean to MOLAA and/or how does MOLAA support the LGBTQ+ community?
Pride meas inclusiveness, diversity and the entire community’s well being. As a result of this exhibition, MOLAA has developed a strong partnership with other other organizations that support the LGBTQ+ community and are activley developing programming that will keep these collaborations alive.
Any upcoming events/future exhibits readers should know about?
The will be a busy summer for MOLAA. On July 27th, MOLAA will host the presentation Activisim & the Arts: A Life Journey by Dan Guerrero, accompanied by a panel discussion afterwards moderated by Eduardo Lara, a Sociologist of Education at Cal State Long Beach and member of the Board of Director for the LGBTQ Center Long Beach. In his talk Activism & the Arts: A Life Journey, influential artist/educator/activist Dan Guerrero travels through decades of Mexican-American/Chicano and LGBTQ history from a personal point of view. The intersection of the social and political movements in both communities is vividly illustrated through storytelling and historic photos in this powerful presentation. Through his own experiences, Guerrero speaks to the Chicano and contemporary LGBTQ movements and addresses the importance of solidarity across cultural currents.
To see details of the upcoming events at MOLAA, please visit molaa.org/events (https://molaa.org/events) or follow us on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/MuseumofLatinAmericanArt/) and Instagram (@molaaart)