Artists look to engage community in building American flag


American pride and spirit could not be more important to Rip Maclay of Milwaukee. His One Spark project “Keep the Dream Alive” highlights the importance of patriotism and its connection to art.

To accomplish that goal, Maclay and his co-creator, Patty Best, are seeking $40,000 in crowd-funding at One Spark to produce a replica of the American flag created from special tiles decorated by both veterans and children.

“We must do more to ensure that our citizens, especially the younger generation,” Maclay said, “appreciate the many sacrifices made by older generations to protect and defend our way of living and the privileges we enjoy as American citizens.”

If they receive funding, Maclay and Best hope to create their flag replica by the 200th anniversary of the national anthem, the “Star Spangled Banner,” on Sept. 14.

“We will be sending tiles to artists labeling them as red, white or blue to fit the schematic,” Maclay said. The tiles will then be re-assembled into the flag replica.

With a total of 312 tiles representing all the states, the team hopes the cost of the finished product can be offset with One Spark funding. The creators are also asking for funding for a vehicle and other materials then needed for a national tour of their artwork.

Maclay and Best will be bringing some of their smaller pieces to One Spark with them to show crowds their artistic technique. However, they envision the flag replica as much larger.

The prototypical piece that they will bring to One Spark consists of 4-inch tiles, while the next piece that will be created after One Spark will consist of 5-inch tiles.

A managing partner at a Milwaukee investment firm, Maclay has always had a knack for art. He launched a nonprofit organization, I Pledge USA, in 2011 as an initiative with school children to enable them to both create and appreciate patriotic art.

One Spark won’t be the first event he’s entered.

Maclay also entered Art Prize, an art-only competition in Michigan, in 2011 and 2012. There, he and his project not only gained exposure in the community, but he also heard from a One Spark speaker talking about the Jacksonville festival.

That’s when he decided to bring his dream here.

The art Maclay has created in the past is a mixture of photos on tiles containing different images related to the United States.

For past pieces, Maclay has snapped all the photos then assembled them into patriotic collages. He plans to take photographs while at the event for his project to symbolize the importance of art within communities

For the two One Spark creators, their work is a mixture of love and patriotism.

“The personal satisfaction derived from watching people interact with the artwork” drives his project, Maclay said. “My greatest highlight has been when viewers of the artwork come up and say ‘thank you’ for doing the piece.”

This story was reported by Ignite Media, an independent news bureau created by University of North Florida students.

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