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Global Understanding: Redesigning the American Flag

(The Verge) – On Tuesday April 9th, 2013 Monmouth University’s own Professor, Michael Richison, held a seminar at the Global Understanding Convention titled: Redesigning the American Flag. Going in, I had originally thought that Professor Richison would show everyone how he thought the American flag should be designed. Much to my surprise, it was the complete opposite.
Michael Richison is a professor of graphic design. When you walked into the seminar, there were huge canvases set up around the room. At first glance, it was hard to tell exactly what they were. Professor Richison started the seminar out by talking about personification, and how an image or a song can take on a powerful meaning to us. He referred to the Star Spangled Banner and how it can bring people to tears. It is not the actual harmonies or even the lyrics that make us emotional, it is the feeling behind it that causes such reactions.
He then went on to explain that once a year (for the past few), he has given his students a very powerful assignment that takes a lot of thought and creativity. He asks them to redesign the American Flag in a way that they believe truly reflects the ideals of life in the United States of America. While it may be simple to put together the assignment graphically, thinking of a concept seems like it would be the hardest part.
The ones on display embodied all different types of things that are identified with the United States. The students chose topics such as drugs, alcohol, gun violence, politics, and obesity. They included visuals ranging all the way from Ronald McDonald to a bald eagle holding a whiskey bottle and smoking a cigarette. The topics that the students chose to use for their redesign of the American Flag were all issues that are so apparent in the United States. Like I said before, the choosing of topics was mostly likely the easiest part for them; executing them in a creative manner must have been challenging. I give the students that did these presentations a lot of credit.
The thought and creativity that went into these works of art is impressive. I was pleasantly surprised as to what the seminar actually was all about. Not that I would have been disappointed to see work done by professor Richison himself, but seeing it done by students was really inspiring.
Monmouth University sophomore and fellow global ambassador for the convention, Eva Rosamilia, truly enjoyed the seminar as well. She stated, “I find it so fascinating that there are so many different ways people depict and recreate the American culture based on their own perspectives and present them in their work.” I have to agree with her. The way that these students created these pieces of work and came up with the powerful meaning behind them is truly mesmerizing.
The one thing that I really enjoyed about Redesigning of the American Flag, was the idea that even though this project was done for a grade, the students got to have their work shown to the Monmouth community and have it be appreciated for the work they did. They clearly put a lot of effort into this and it not only got recognition from professor Richison, it also got deserved recognition from Monmouth University students, alumni, and professors alike.
The students that created these works of art should feel very proud of themselves. This wasn’t just an everyday assignment for a grade…it allowed their true views and feelings about the world to become apparent, and visualized.
My final regards go out to these extremely talented students and the work that they put into what they love. I enjoyed the seminar so much more than I thought I would, and I respect the work that you did. Keep up the good work and I truly believe you will all do great in your future endeavors.

The seminar my Professor Richison allowed Monmouth students and community members to see the wonderful work accomplished by his class. The work entailed creating their own American flag. Image aken from: