After the terrorist attacks occurred in Paris, France, earlier in November, a symbol of resilience, resistance, and dedication to peace appeared again and again. The British newspaper The Guardian had a fascinating article about this image and the much-earlier peace symbol upon which the French symbol was based.
In this latest version of this well-known design, we see the traditional peace symbol localized to Paris. The interior lines now are easily identified as the Eiffel Tower, the iconic symbol of Paris. The artist who designed this was Jean Jullien, a French graphic designer. Within 24 hours, the new Eiffel peace symbol had been printed on posters and t-shirts and flags. It went “viral” as they say, and showed up again and again on social media.
What is especially interesting about The Guardian article is how the original peace symbol came about. This simple and instantly recognizable symbol for peace was designed in 1958 by a British artist named Gerald Holtom. Members of Direct Action Committee Against Nuclear War (DAC) immediately accepted Holtom’s design when he first showed them.
The Guardian goes on to explain that no one ever claimed to own rights to this symbol. “Holtom himself had never claimed copyright; he wanted the design to be freely available to any group who fought the same cause. It success was almost immediate.” The design was adopted for use by many movements, among them the U.S. civil right and feminist movements, the anti-Vietnam War movement, and the anti-nuclear movement. Over time, The Guardian says, the peace symbol “came instead to represent peace and justice more generally, especially when those ideas conflicted with the establishment view.” As a consequence it has been banned more than once, notably by South Africa’s apartheid government.
Holtom’s design has appeared again and again in the past almost-sixty years. And now it has appeared in Paris in an adapted form. According to French designer Jullien, “the strongest images are the ones that don’t require any deep background in culture or art history to decipher … It needs to be something that people from different backgrounds can recognise automatically.”
If you are inclined to participate in the seasonal madness, please seriously consider purchasing locally and purchasing the arts and fine crafts produced by so many of our really fine artists and craftsmen in the Sonoran bioregion. Go to studio sales, street markets, and locally-owned shops to find unique, one-of-a-kind gifts. There is nothing in the world so fine as the gift of art or fine crafts.
Coming up soon in December:
December 4: Green Valley Village Holiday Spectacular, Green Valley
December 5: River Bend Farm and Craft Fair, Tucson
December 5 and 6: Cascabel Community Fair, Cascabel
December 5 and 6: Oro Valley Holiday Festival of the Arts, Oro Valley
December 11-13: 4th Avenue Fall Street Fair, Tucson
December 12: Bisbee After 5 Second Saturday Artwalk: Handcrafted Holiday
December 19 and 20: Casa Grande Arts & Crafts Festival, Casa Grande
The National Endowment for the Arts initiated a 50th Anniversary Tell Us Your Art Story series. Here is a YouTube link to southern Arizona Congressman Raul Grijalva, third Congressional district, telling his art story. (Sept. 15, 2015)
C.J. Shane is the publisher and editor of Sonoran Arts Network. She is an artist and writer. Visit her website at www.cjshane.com to learn more about her.