Bennie Flores Ansell
(Filipino, b. 1967)
Digital color photograph, wood and glass collection boxes, and police patches; Photograph: 48 x 60 inches, collection boxes: 16 x 20 inches
NEMO is made of law enforcement patches UHPD Lt. Richard Storemski collected over the course of twenty years of trading. This exchange of patches is a common practice among law enforcement workers and solidifies the sense of brotherhood experienced by police officers across the country. Bennie Flores Ansell displays this collection of patches for the public along with a UH police officer shirt in the standard issue blue. The basic blue UH police shirt is there to represent the force as a whole and shows how one patch placed on the shirt transforms it into a uniform with greater significance. The last pieces of Ansell’s works are the collection boxes and the five armbands placed under it. These bands are worn when an officer is killed in the line of duty. The motto—Nemo me impune lacessit—is the national motto of the Kingdom of Scotland and is loosely translated as “No one can harm me unpunished.” This underlines the strength of the police force as a united front and the symbolism that one stands for many. Together, the elements of Ansell’s installation evokes respect and gratitude from civilians while reminding officers of the duty, unity, and pride their uniform represents. Ansell is based out of Houston and received her MFA in photography from the University of Houston in 1999. She received honorable mention in TFAA’s “Transcending Limits” exhibition and a fellowship for American Photography from New York University. Born in the Philippines, Ansell moved to the United States when she was six months old. Much of her work searches to explore the relationship between being a part of two nationalities and her identity in those cultures.
University of Houston