12 May 2009

WELL BEING: Make Peace More Than a Symbol

On April 4, 2009, the peace sign turned 51 years old. Peace remains as elusive as ever, but--with the nation in at least two wars and styles of the Sixties and Seventies enjoying a resurgence--the peace symbol shows up everywhere: clothing, jewelry, home decor, tatoos, stickers, and stationary. Recently, I even saw ice cube trays with peace symbols; and Vail’s tony jewelry shop, The Golden Bear, added to their catalog a tasteful peace symbol pendant.

British designer Gerald Holtom designed the pictogram.
“I drew myself…a man in despair…put a circle around it to represent the world; Planet Earth with one little man in despair in it. The problem in justifying this symbol was resolved when I began to analyze the origin of the despair gesture…perhaps such gestures pre-dated alphabets? Obviously, I turned to semaphore signals and found that this gesture stood for N (Negative) and that the vertical stood for D (Divide). So here I had the justification for the symbol Nuclear Disarmament.”

Images show, at top, Archbishop Desmond Tutu on a poster I shot in Chicago last summer. Center, a Bonnie MacLean-designed rock-and-roll concert poster from “Psychedelic Experiment,” now exhibited at Denver Art Museum. (Sorry for the fuzzy photo.) The DAM's gift shop currently carries a T-shirt titled “The Art of Peace” with riffs on the peace symbol in the style of six artists: DaVinici, Picasso, Warhol, Van Gogh, Pissarro, and Mondrian.

Peace be with you.


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