PHILADELPHIA -- "Nice day to roll a flag ball, isn't it?" said Tony Stanzione as he watched New York artist Donald Lipski and 10 Beaver College students roll the giant red, white and blue ball around the college parking lot.

The ball in question was made of Styrofoam, wrapped first in cotton batting, then in nearly 1,200 yards of uncut American flags.

The resulting eight-foot ball will sit on the lawn outside the Beaver College Art Gallery in Glenside, Pa., until Dec. 12 as part of an exhibition called "Who's Afraid of the Red, White and Blue?"

Stanzione, Lipski's assistant, had already helped the artist roll 12 smaller flag balls for display inside the gallery, along with a peach tree whose root ball is also wrapped in American flags.

Some of Lipski's other flag-theme works on display include an iridescent, 25-by-70-foot flag in blue, yellow and green, and a monochromatic flag made of wool gabardine.

Lipski became interested in the flag theme in June, when the Supreme Court overturned a Texas law that prohibited flag desecration.

"If the flag is a symbol, it is a symbol of a society where artists can do what they want," said Lipski. "It rubs me the wrong way to be told making art out of one object is sacrosanct."

To outlaw flag desecration is to "transpose the role of law enforcement into art police," said Lipski.

Gallery Director Paula Marincola said that she had admired Lipski's work for years and that he was the first artist she reached about an exhibit when she joined the gallery in October 1988.

She said that his flag ball got her thinking about "how balls relate to American culture."

She noted how important it was to be "on the ball" and to "throw out the first ball of the season."

Although one student asked her if flag balls represented America's influence on the rest of the world, she said that the exhibit had a "multiplicity of meaning" and that there was "no real way to interpret" it.

Dana Pesko, a freshman studying graphic design, was one of the students helping to roll the ball. Pesko found out about the project when her art history professor told her class about it.

"I think a lot of people are interested to see what the reactions are because of the flag-desecration issue," she said.

The ball, however, attracted little attention last week.

Other flag-theme works by Lipski are being displayed simultaneously at the Fabric Workshop and the University of the Arts, both in Philadelphia.