Robert Carley’s photographs document the proliferation of stars and stripes that followed Sept. 11, 2001, when Americans not only waved their flag, but painted its likeness on their cars, homes and monuments.
As he puts it, the flag became “untethered from the flagpole” after the terrorist attacks. People placed it onto onto the things they loved. That happened partly out of necessity, with flags selling out at stores, and partly out of impulse.
Carley’s photos of the results, including a pickup truck that was painted by a Port Chester teacher, will be on exhibit starting July 14 at the Bruce Museum in Greenwich, Conn.
The houses have special symbolism to him. He photographed one in Harrison with patriotic bunting draped over the shingles, and another in Port Chester with the words “God Bless America” glowing as part of a Christmas lighting display.
He took note of the flag phenomenon after watching the aftermath of 9/11 at the office building where he worked in Stamford. He was laid off in 2002 and pursued his photography project to 43 states, finding his subjects by happenstance and through tips gathered from colleagues and contacts. As the flags slowly retreat from the landscape, Carley is planning just one more trip.
“It’s very hard to find things now,” he said.
Carley came across the pickup at Lyon Park in Port Chester, but didn’t catch up with its owner until he spotted it again on I-95. He tracked down Tom Josephson, a teacher in Port Chester, who appears in the photo (standing, at left) with the Corpus Christi baseball team.
The photo from Harrison is of Roy Aletti, alongside Uncle Sam, in front of his Parsons Street home.
The exhibit runs through Sept. 22. Carley’s photos have also been displayed at the Viridian Artists gallery in Chelsea and the Legislative Office Building in Hartford, Conn., on the 10th anniversary of 9/11. Carley said a second exhibit is scheduled at the legislative building during the December anniversary of the school shooting in Newtown, Conn.
Below are more of Carley’s photos: A house in Kansas City, Christmas lights in Port Chester, and a flower flag in Rye Brook.