Alejandra Abad and Román Anaya, both earning MFAs at the University of Colorado Boulder, thought 2021 could use a touch of creativity and hope, given how badly things turned out in 2020. So they are asking people to send in positive messages of hope to put on flags that will be displayed in both a virtual gallery and hung around Boulder and Denver in the months to come.
"We wanted to create something that would unite people," says Abad.
They've posted online prompts in both English and Spanish: "What is your message of hope? What do you wish for the future? What is your wish?" The responses will inform the text on the flags.
In 2021, the artists will hang a selection of flags throughout the Art District on Santa Fe and outside Lighthouse Writers Workshop and the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art; the flags will be included in a presidential-like motorcade offering an inclusive alternative to nationalism, with all of the bravado and none of the oppression. The flags will also be available to view online.
To ensurethat they get a wide variety of messages of hope, Abad and Anaya are collaborating with Museo de las Américas, which will distribute flag-making kits, and Lighthouse, which will incorporate the project into bilingual workshops.
Funded in part by CU Boulder, the flag project will celebrate cultural differences and diverse perspectives on what the future should hold.
"I personally was thinking about occupying spaces for people who are often told they cannot speak out or use their own identities," Abad says. "Immigrant communities are told to assimilate, or that they’re not good enough. We are thinking of reclaiming the idea of patriotism with a celebration of identity and diversity."
"The motorcade will probably take place around the time of the [presidential] transition," she notes.
Abad's hope is that the project allows often silenced people to have their voices heard.
"When the majority is telling you you’re scum, it makes you feel like you have to speak softly, apologize for everything, and you’re not welcome," Abad says. "So this is kind of like a big hug from us."
For more information about the project, go to the Unidos Club website.