(NewsNation) — An artist whose installation of a flag along the U.S.-Mexico border went viral said the message was meant to be one of brotherhood that crosses borders.
The Texas Department of Public Safety removed the flag, but video of the incident spread online, sparking outrage.
Some saw the flag as a symbol of invasion by those attempting to cross the border illegally, especially since many people believed it was a flag from Venezuela, a country that has had a contentious relationship with the U.S.
But according to artist Roberto Marquez, the flag does not represent an invasion or any country in particular. While it has the same color configuration as the Venezuelan and Colombian flags, it has “Robenz” painted on it — Marquez’s trademark.
“It is not an American flag, is not a Venezuelan flag, is not from Colombia. It is not from Bolivia, it is not from Ecuador, it’s just a piece of work,” Marquez told NewsNation.
Marquez, who has dual citizenship in the U.S. and Mexico, said his installations along the border are his way of attempting to help address a larger issue.
“What is it that I can do? I’m only an artist,” Marquez said. “I’m trying to do something that can improve the situation.”
He told NewsNation he chose the format of the flag because it would be familiar to many of those who cross the southern border.
“When they get to see a work of art, I need to find something that people can understand from the moment they see it and something that they can feel familiar with,” he said. “So when they get to see a piece of work that looks like their flag. And there are like four countries that have the same structure. They have the yellow, the blue and the red. So they think, ‘Okay,’ so ‘flag.'”
The message Marquez hoped to send was one of unity, as immigration continues to be a hotly debated topic politically.
“This is a message that I send to United States, in the name of the people that are coming not only from Venezuela, but all the migrants that come from different parts of the world. To tell the Americans that they will be brothers, we all should try not to prejudge and to not hate each other,” he said.
While the flag was removed, Marquez said he hopes that in the future, officials will take a moment to consider why an installation like the flag would be present before removing it. As for the outrage, he noted the American flag often flies abroad without being a sign of aggression.
“I don’t think that bringing that original flag for many other countries is offensive because we have them all over the world,” he said. “We have American flags in the embassy, in different places. Are they invading me as they profess this to be? I don’t think it is.”