Flying flags convey messages, offer encouragement

Students in Erin Mallea's Introduction to Sculpture class have their semester projects on display at the Kuga Pavilion. Mallea used flags to teach the students about using various textiles to convey a message or theme.

MONACA — Erin Mallea wanted to teach her students about textiles and sewing as part of her “Introduction to Sculpture” class. She chose flags as way to teach the students about different textiles and allow them to share their creativity.

Mallea, an instructor of art at Penn State Beaver, said the project allowed her students to learn different techniques and to think about materials and how materials would interact with outdoor elements and in a particular space.
The flags are now on display at the Kuga Pavilion on campus. She said she chose the pavilion because of the “beautiful architecture. It’s kind of like this little enclave, a place where students can stop and relax.”

Each flag is conveying a theme or message. Mallea said the students learned about creating a narrative with art and thinking about how art can be celebratory, political or represent a place or identity.

“The students approached it from all different angles,” Mallea said.
Freshman Alexiat Portillo created two flags. Her first flag displays the word sonrie, which means smile in Spanish. “Maybe someone will see it, search it up and smile,” she said. 

Portillo’s second flag is made from plastic bags she asked her friends to give her. The creation is meant to be a commentary on plastic and to show that you can make beautiful things out it.

Bekjigit Saldarov said he had a class in the Laboratory Classroom Building that was stressful, so he wanted students passing to feel they had some moral support as they enter the building. Saldarov, a freshman, said his mother tried to teach him to sew, so the project wasn’t his first time using the skill. He created a flag with a smiley face to “cheer people up.”

Trevor Dolan, a junior, said his flag was based on an inspirational quote his friend says, “‘Don’t use old keys to unlock new doors.’ It’s all about moving forward.”

Martin Igaba, a freshmen, used a variety of textiles to convey a message about thoughts and creativity. He said he got the idea from a project he did in high school. His concept is, “What you think is how you feel, and how you feel is how you create.”

There are 15 students in the class. Their flags will remain on display at the Kuga Pavilion for the next several weeks.