David, Goliath, & The Futility of Copyright

Kate Kretz
21 min readJul 27, 2021
Kate Kretz, Art World Truth #7 (detail), 2010, embroidery on used studio overalls

“For a century, there have usually been two versions of each art, one real, but poor and underground, and one fake, although rich and conspicuous. The latter ingests the former as needed.” - Donald Judd, on why there are so few masterpieces

Everyone loves a David and Goliath story. We relish tales of seemingly weak protagonists killing stronger, evil giants through ingenuity, tenacity, or a combination thereof. It is thrilling to see justice served, unexpectedly and against all odds. While this biblical underdog story is timeless, it seems particularly resonant these days, as the rich get richer, corporations become untouchable, and the powerful easily control narratives via the internet. Individual voices can easily be drowned out by the force of a well-organized PR campaign, adept at manufacturing illusions that their audiences truly want to believe in. The lone artist cannot fight the monster machine, especially once it has been set in motion simultaneously across all media platforms.

In mid-June 2021, one of the week’s trending internet topics was a special Juneteenth op-ed released by Grammy Award winning singer Macy Gray. In it, she described American flags being waved while invading the Capitol during the January 6th, 2021 insurrection, and also being wielded to beat our citizens. She explained how that got her thinking that our stars and stripes have been co-opted by the conservative right, to effectively act as an updated version of the confederate flag. She proposed a new American flag, with stars made of the melanin scale colors, so they would finally represent all U.S. citizens.

I happen to agree with her. I’m a longtime activist artist who published my own drawing of that same flag concept sixteen months prior, and subsequently filed an official U.S. copyright application for it. Below is the small sketch submitted to the copyright office to simply illustrate my concept, which I intended to use in various capacities. I filed an official copyright because knew it was a great idea, but that the execution of the physical part of my project would take a while to complete, so I wanted to stake my claim.

Kate Kretz

Artist / Speaker / Professor perfecting The Beautiful Gut Punch. Obsessively made, timely, truth-telling work, in paint, thread, hair, & heat. www.katekretz.com