Forward, Together: Flag Project looks at immigrant past, hope for future

Forward, Together: Flag Project looks at immigrant past, hope for future

When multidisciplinary Denver-based artist Jaime Carrejo was approached to participate in the Momentary’s Flag Project, he knew he wanted to create a hopeful work to acknowledge the challenges everyone faced in 2020.

“Despite it all, many of us are lucky to be here, on this planet, breathing,” he posits. “The flag project was an opportunity to acknowledge our collective differences and create a gesture for us to come together.”

The Flag Project invites a rotating series of artists to create an original flag that will hang from the Momentary’s historic flag pole remaining from the building’s factory days. The project embraces the venue’s foundational principle of adaptive reuse architecture while exploring the ideas of identity, symbolism and history through the lens of these artists’ diverse experiences.

Carrejo’s flag, titled “Pa’Lante,” incorporates a block design inspired by the Pew Research Center’s data on immigration patterns.

“Then, I paused,” he reflects. “There were Indigenous people here before people settled in the U.S. I wanted to acknowledge this as well in the project. Before I started working on the block pattern, I created one solid block of color to indicate immigrants were not the first people on U.S. soil. The color block is the foundation of the flag.”

A chain-link fence pattern on top of the first layers points toward the border wall and immigrant narratives, he continues. A quartered circle attached to a simple line pattern refers to an analog clock cut up into units of time. The motif is “poetic time and a chance for us to heal and listen to each other,” Carrejo explains.

Overlaying all these interconnected pieces of the flag, an olive branch and the word Pa’Lante create a focal point for the work. A gesture of peace and hope, the olive branch illustrates the idea of supporting one another to overcome new challenges ahead.

“Loosely translated, it means ‘onward’ or ‘forward,’” Carrejo explains of the flag’s final element, the word Pa’Lante. “We have a choice to concentrate on our differences or to make a positive connection in each other’s lives.”

Carrejo recognizes viewers will, as with all works of art, form different interpretations of the flag around their own personal histories.

“It’s a work of reflection, curiosity and hope. I want it to spark conversation, to think through the meaning of the word Pa’Lante,” he offers. “It is an informal, casual word like the casual conversations I hope the visitors of the Momentary have with their friends and family while on the grounds looking at the flag. And maybe, through conversation, care and listening, we may get a little closer to understanding what it means to move forward with each other.”

As Carrejo explored the data that inspired the base motifs — which includes immigration patterns from Latin America, Europe, the Middle East and Asia — he noted interesting similarities between the Pew Research data and the demographics in the Bentonville area, he reveals. The solid block of color is also a nod to the Osage Nation, who hunted on the land where the Momentary stands today. According to the Momentary’s website, the site’s earliest recorded history was in 1673 when the Osage encountered French explorers.

“I want to make an important note here,” Carrejo pauses. “We need to reflect on our historic immigration narratives in America. We must acknowledge the lands we live on were populated before [European] people settled here. We have a responsibility to ensure education includes the histories of Indigenous people in conjunction with our shared immigrant narratives. I also want to say that these are complicated conversations, and it takes open ears and an open heart to arrive at a place of mutual understanding.”



The Momentary

WHEN — Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday 10 a.m.-7 p.m.; Thursday-Saturday 10 a.m.-10 p.m.; closed Monday

WHERE — 507 S.E. E St. in Bentonville

COST — Free

INFO — 367-7500,

FYI — Carrejo’s flag will be on display through Sept. 26.

Categories: Cover Story