Born at Lookout Mountain, TN, Roger Lee Ivens was only seven when his father, an army man, died and was given a full military funeral with the American flag draped over the coffin. Roger’s fascination with the American flag stems from this moment.
In elementary school in Atlanta GA, Roger once asked his teacher what “abstract art" was, leading his classmates to start calling him Abstract. Later, while working on a construction job, his co-workers shortened this to Ab.
Ab became a carpenter, and while working at a wood shop he began to see a connection between the pieces of left-over wood and the flags he had been collecting since his father's death. He re-arranged the wood scraps by layering and interweaving them, turning them into three dimensional flag sculptures that he then painted. This ultimately earned him the title Flagman.
Not many folk artists have climbed to fame as fast as Ab the Flagman. From the sale of his first flag at the side of the road in Atlanta GA, to being represented by a number of well-known art galleries, he has become an artist whose work is collected and treasured. Most of his creations are freedom symbols like the Statue of Liberty, eagles, faces of U.S. Presidents and of course, the flag. He continues to share his latest art on Facebook. In his FB profile he describes himself as a " Philosophical artist with a master's degree in social political observebancy [sic] and interpretation."
Ab was at one time the lead singer in a country rock band called The X-Miss Americas. The band's sound was referred to as a "unique blend of Southern Fried Rock and Roll."
Ab the Flagman is one of the artists featured in HMA's exhibition New Horizons: Self-Taught Art in The 21st Century (September 23, 2017 - January 7, 2018).
Post by Karin Borei, HMA Project Coordinator, writer and editor as needed, and HMA blogger since our blog's inception in March 2015.