Flags in Design

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous Flag Discussion' started by Designer 1, Mar 5, 2009.

  1. Designer 1

    Designer 1 New Member

    I work for a museum and an designing an exhibition about Lincoln. I have some design concepts that involve use of the flag image, and would like to get some feedback on whether they would be considered appropriate.

    1. The nation torn apart by the issue of slavery. In this section of the exhibit, an entire wall would look like an 1850s American flag. The white stripes of the flag are dimensional and crumbling away to reveal an image of slaves gathering cottom in the red background. A hole in the flag is actually a window of a display case housing slavery artifacts. A quote of Lincoln on slavery is written on one of the stripes. The point is to express that the nation was being torn apart over issue of slavery.

    2. Seccession and War. Later in the exhibition, southern states secede from the union. In this section a large Confederate flag is painted on the wall at an angle as a backdrop for related artifacts. It slightly overlaps a painted 1861 U.S. flag that is also angled, so that the Union is tilted downward, expressing distress. Both flags are of equal size, but the U.S flag is higher.

    I have read the flag code, and know that if one were to simply think of these design as flags being displayed, that these would be obviously in violation. What is not clear to me is what is accepable in artistic works that use the flag image. If literal flag code were applied to artworks, then every painting that shows a battleworn flag would be a violation. Every photograph, for that matter, documenting a vioaltion would itself be a violation, as well. The way the flag would be used in these designs woulf be educational in nature, and in no way intended as disrepectful—quite the contrary.

    I'd love to hear what you think. Thanks.
  2. NAVA1974

    NAVA1974 Active Member

    Designer 1.
    First of all, welcome to the forum. Secondly, the flag stands for, among other things, your right to use the flag in design as you see fit under the First Amendment right to free speech. The fact that you want to use the flag, or elements of the flag's design, to teach Americans about their history is quite commendable. Third, lettering across the flag is, indeed, in violation of the flag code. However, lettering across a representation of a Civil War period flag would be very much in line with flag useage of that time period. Battle honors were painted across the stripes of the flag. Political candidates' names were painted or sewn onto the stripes. Presidential candidates portraits were printed onto the flag. The concept of flag protocol as we know it began after the US Centennial in 1876 and reached fever pitch from the 1890's to the 1920's when the Flag Code was finally adopted. The code was not law, but many states have incorporated flag codes into their laws but violations of those laws have almost always been struck down by the courts.

    We would like to see pictures of the displays when complete.
  3. jbray333

    jbray333 New Member

    I was in a major department store today and found numerous doormats for sale that use elements of the American Flag. I found this to be very offensive to think that anyone would find it acceptable to wipe their feet on a doormat having red and white stripes bordered by a blue field and white stars! I intend to contact the corporate office of the company to complain but would like to cite law that would add more emphasis to my argument. The store manager said there was nothing she could do about it. I see things like this everywhere and am deeply offended by it. While patriotism is terrific and unthinking citizens might find it OK, I do not. Suggestions (besides not shopping there)?

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