The following text was requested by the El Paso Museum of History on August 6 to accompany the Shared Spaces El Paso work we had created. It was being used during memorial services being held there for the El Paso community following a tragic mass shooting that had just taken place.
Bob Clyatt created The Shared Spaces Project which takes him to communities across the United States to gather the voices and choices of Americans into wall-mounted flag sculptures. Bob works with local organizations to invite people to bring objects meaningful to them, or choose from among those he has on hand. Together they imprint them into the soft clay Stars and Stripes, and cast a single piece in a blend of plaster and ground Carrara marble, which is gifted to the community. Ten of these flags will be shown together, with video and images of the people creating them, in national exhibitions being planned during 2020 in New York, Washington D.C. and elsewhere.
“The Shared Spaces- El Paso flag was created over the week of July 27 at the Downtown Art and Farmer’s Market and during Old West Fest at the El Paso Museum of History, just days prior to the recent tragic events. All the objects you see in the flag were selected and placed by people here, either items they brought with them, or which they chose from among those the artist had available on hand. We believe this piece offers a unique view into our community, its many voices and visions. The artist views the Shared Spaces process as a way for people to explore all kinds of different ways of being American, to allow each object and point of view its integrity and place in this Shared Space that is our country. “When I stand back and look at the piece I see all these individual objects, distinct, some of them things I would never have thought to include, some of them possibly even in disagreement or conflict, and yet it all still comes together as a whole. This has helped me think about what it means to live in a democracy with the kinds of rights and freedoms we have here.”
This piece will be shown together with those being created in other communities around the country in national exhibitions starting next year. It was created by us, belongs to us and is a way for us to share El Paso’s uniqueness with each other and with the rest of the US. The artist chose many different places to create these works, but he chose El Paso because we straddle two worlds, two cultures, and “one has the strong sense in El Paso that they really have figured out how to live harmoniously with each other despite or even because of their different histories and cultures. My heart stays with you El Paso.”