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Dots and Stripes Fornever

Object Details

Erlena Chisolm Bland
acrylic and mixed media on plywood
24 5/8 × 15 3/8 × 3 1/8 in. (62.5 × 39 × 8 cm)
Erlena Chisolm Bland (1923-2009) combines techniques of sculpture and painting in Dots and Stripes Fornever. The piece is made of plywood, which the artist coated with minerals, then cut into shapes and painted with colorful acrylics. The textured boards are layered to create a three-dimensional art form known as assemblage. The artwork and its title riff on the US flag and the marching band tune it inspired, Stars and Stripes Forever, by John Philip Sousa. However, the flag morphs into a rocket with teal dots, rather than white stars. Its deep blue field reappears in contrails along with black, orange, and teal stripes. “Forever” in the National March’s title, becomes “fornever,” hinting at impossibility. A lifelong resident of Washington, DC, Bland graduated from Dunbar High School and Howard University, where she majored in Fine Arts. She later earned a master’s degree in library science at the University of Maryland and served as the librarian at Goding Elementary School before renewing her focus on art in retirement.
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