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"American Identity," a selection of artistic work by Greta Pratt, is currently on exhibit at Old Dominion University's Baron and Ellin Gordon Art Galleries through Feb. 24.

"Flag A Day" is a reaction to the consumption of patriotism in America. In the days immediately following 9/11, Americans displayed the flag in record numbers. Stores across the country could not keep up with the demand. The original intent to demonstrate solidarity exploded into an all out flag-a-thon, resulting in the appearance of the American flag on everything from the neighbor's mailbox to mud flaps on a 16-wheeler.

"Nineteen Lincolns" represents Pratt's quest to understand how we remember history and to comment on the way a society, composed of individuals, is held together through the creation of its history and heroic figures. For this work, she individually photographed 19 men from The Association of Lincoln Presenters, men who are passionate about Abraham Lincoln and spend time studying, reading, and performing for school groups, community celebrations and senior citizen centers.

"I photographed the men individually to allow each the opportunity to present his idea of Lincoln," Pratt explains. "The muted palate and softly focused background references history painting and binds the group together suggesting a communal identity."

In "Using History," Pratt decided to photograph how Americans remember the past, in order to understand what is revealed by the events we choose to celebrate as history. Her photographic images address how the culture and morality of today are reflected in what we commemorate about the past.

Pratt, an assistant professor of photography in the art department at Old Dominion, is the author of two books of photographs, "Using History" (Steidl, 2005) and "In Search of the Corn Queen" (National Museum of American Art, 1994). Her works are represented in major public and private collections, including the Smithsonian American Art Museum, The Museum of Contemporary Photography, the Museum of Fine Arts Houston and the Minneapolis Museum of Art.

Pratt was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize and has served as photography bureau chief of Reuters International in New York City. Her photo essays have been published in major newspapers and magazines, including The New York Times Magazine and The New Yorker. She is the recipient of a New Jersey State Arts Council Grant.

The Baron and Ellin Gordon Art Galleries, located at 4509 Monarch Way, Norfolk, are open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday. For more information call 683-6271 or go to http://www.odu.edu/al/art/gallery.

This article was posted on: February 8, 2008

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