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Downtown Artist Collects Fabric and Handprints for 9/11 Community Flag

By Julie Shapiro | June 16, 2011 11:57am

By Julie Shapiro

DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

LOWER MANHATTAN — Hundreds of hands from around the world are linking for an international commemoration of 9/11.

Artist Muriel Stockdale's "Out of Many, One: A Community Art Project," is a project to create a 12-foot-wide American flag out of pieces of handprint-covered fabric sent by participants from around the world.

"It's a celebration of diversity and an honoring of the memory of 9/11," said Stockdale, 57, a Financial District resident. "We're showing off who we are, that we can be different but still live together and respect each other."

Trinity Church is sponsoring the project and began collecting hand tracings and 10-inch-by-10-inch pieces of fabric at the Charlotte's Place community center this week.

Stockdale hopes to receive fabrics that have special meaning to the donor, whether it's a sari, a prayer shawl or a scrap from a favorite pair of worn-out jeans. The flag will mostly be red, white and blue, but Stockdale will try to incorporate any color or pattern she receives.

Volunteers will begin stitching the flag together in mid-July, and Trinity Church plans to unveil it at Charlotte's Place, the church's community center, on the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.

Tadeo Yonson, 28, who works in the neighborhood, was intrigued by the project when he heard about it while stopping by Charlotte's Place on a recent afternoon. He hopes to donate a piece of a Dominican Republic flag that his grandfather passed down to him.

"We've focused a lot on the tragedy [of 9/11], but something showing the triumph is really important," Yonson said.

The idea for the community flag grew out of the diverse array of American flags Stockdale has been crafting since 2003. It puts a different spin on the flags that proliferated after the attacks 10 years ago.

She started thinking about American flags during the buildup to the Iraq War, when the red, white and blue banners appeared to be everywhere.

"It felt like such a monochromatic version of the flag, focused on military prowess and nothing else," Stockdale said. "There's so much more to our flag and patriotism than that idea."

To represent the country's diversity, Stockdale stitched a series of American flags each made of materials that represented a different country. There are colorful woolen shawls and wooden dolls for Russia, prayer flags for Tibet and traditional silk and zodiac charms for China.

A collection of those flags, along with a sample of the "Out of Many, One" flag, is on display at Charlotte's Place this summer.

For more information about the community flag, e-mail charlottesplace@trinitywallstreet.org or stop by Charlotte's Place, 109 Greenwich St.