The USF Contemporary Art Museum (CAM) will raise a new flag designed by Yoko Ono promoting peace on Tuesday at 10 a.m. as a part of the national art project, Pledges of Allegiance. The flag will say “think peace, act peace, spread peace, imagine peace” against a simple, white background.
Sarah Howard, curator of public art and social practice and a research associate at CAM, said Pledges of Allegiance originated as commentary on the current political situation.
“The project is a larger part of a series of flags that were designed by artists to create awareness and address issues that each artist is passionate about,” Howard said. “We’ve framed this particular flag raising as sort of our — we’re not having a major election in our area right now in Tampa — we’re framing it as we’re electing peace.”
Pledges of Allegiance was created by the public arts organization Creative Time, which is based out of New York City. According to its website, the work is “guided by three core values: art matters, artists’ voices are important in shaping society, and public spaces are places for creative and free expression.”
CAM began participating in this project July Fourth with the hoisting of Tania Bruguera’s ‘Dignity Has No Nationality’ flag. New flags with social and political commentary are raised every month on significant days. The November flag is being unveiled on election day.
Past flags used in the project have made different statements than the peace message of Ono’s flag. Last month’s flag used the same white background, but instead said “A HORROR MOVIE CALLED WESTERN CIVILIZATION.” The flag that kicked off the project back in June read “resist.”
Howard said this month’s flag will be centered around the message of peace.
“We’re using Yoko Ono’s flag, which is a part of her larger body of work around ‘Imagine Peace,’ which is a concept that was born from her and John Lennon’s work as peace activists beginning in 1973,” Howard said. “She’s been working tirelessly her whole career to promote peace, and I think we’re at a point where we really need to reflect back on what our values are and how we’re pledging allegiance to those values. So, this flag is really about standing up for those values and spreading peace.”
Howard said CAM does have to pay to participate in this project for the production costs of the flags. To help with the cost of the project, CAM has set up a HerdFunder campaign. They have currently received only $650 of their $6,000 target goal, according to the campaign’s website.
“It is a really important project, because it’s a public-based project, so it’s accessible to everyone,” Howard said.
According to Howard, the message of this project is positive for CAM as it makes the museum a more welcoming environment.
“It really frames the museum as a space for open dialogue where people can come together and talk about these issues in an accessible, creative and constructive way,” Howard said.
As recent times have shown, the messages and symbolism flags represent can be significant.
“The idea is using flags as a form of communication and sort of a way to symbolize what we stand for,” Howard said. “They’re a very strong symbol and a way to unify people. It’s not about being against something, but it’s about what you’re for.”