thousands of submissions being narrowed down – St George News

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thousands of submissions being narrowed down – St George News
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Utah Governor Spencer Cox views flag design submissions at the Utah Department of Culture and Community Involvement, Salt Lake City, Utah, June 2002 | Photo courtesy of Utah Office of Lt. Governor, St. George News

SALT LAKE CITY — The refinement of the state’s flag design is itself a nod to Utah’s history. Utah’s flag has been changed at least three times since it was introduced as the Governor’s flag in 1903. That’s when a blue flag with white stitching was quickly created for presentation at a World’s Fair.

Unauthorized changes?

Collage shows the subtle (and sometimes unauthorized) changes made to Utah’s state flag over the years. | Image courtesy of Todd Anderson, Utah Department of Culture and Community Engagement, St. George News.

One change came in 1913 when a flag maker added an unauthorized gold ring around the state seal, and Utah leaders decided to keep it.

Moreover, the flag most Utahns grew up with was still an unauthorized design. A date – 1847 – was mistakenly added by a seamstress under the state seal. State flags repeated that mistake for nearly 90 years, until it was corrected by a legislative resolution in 2011.

More Than a Flag: Hearing Utah Voices

Taking these incremental past updates into account provides a springboard to something new: the More than a Flag initiative.

Driving the effort is Utah leaders’ intention to have a statewide conversation about redesigning Utah’s state flag.

In a recent survey, a majority of respondents said they respect the history of Utah’s current flag — but they reported that the design doesn’t really represent them well.

This spring, the More Than A Flag initiative invited Utahns to submit ideas for the themes and colors that would represent our state on a 21st century banner.

The effort calls vox populi, the Latin phrase for “voice of the people,” to create the “national flag,” similar to the way the Utah State Capitol functions as the “people’s house.” Rare among the nation’s statehouses, the Utah Capitol is open 365 days a year.

By the April 30 deadline, more than 7,000 flag ideas, including 5,703 designs, had been submitted from every province in the state. More than 1,000 designs were hand-drawn flags submitted by students, many to flag workshops in their schools.

By the numbers: the big picture

Fingers make the shape of a flag against a background of submitted Utah state flag designs, June 2022. | Image courtesy of Todd Anderson, Utah Department of Culture and Community Engagement, St. George News.

Those designs were posted to the Utah Department of Culture and Community Engagement offices in June for volunteers on the Design Review Subcommittee to consider.

The display of submissions was like “a statewide art appreciation class,” said Utah Governor Spencer J. Cox, who headed the Utah State Flag Task Force.

“It brings tears to my eyes when I think of all these people who help design the flag,” said Rep. Elizabeth Weight, a Task Force member, said when she viewed those submitted designs. “The new flag will be one that people can point to and say, ‘I was part of the evolution of that flag.’

Colors and symbols and themes: Oh my!

One popular color palette for a new Utah flag was the traditional red, white and blue, some designs also flashed golden yellow. Another color scheme contrasted sky blue with red-rock orange, paired with white to symbolize snow-capped mountains.

Some of the most popular themes submitted were:

  • Beehives or the Beehive constellation to represent Utah as the Beehive State;
  • Stars, circles or other symbols to represent Utah’s eight sovereign tribal nations.
  • Sego lilies and aspen leaves, to represent state symbols, or bees to represent the state theme of “Industry,” with other elements representing Utah’s diversity;
  • Another big Utah idea? Residents say they are proud of Utah’s dramatic, diverse landscapes.

Timeline: What’s Next?

Utah Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson views flag design submissions at the Utah Department of Culture and Community Involvement, Salt Lake City, Utah, June 2002 | Photo courtesy of Utah Office of Lt. Governor, St. George News

Artists, art educators, designers and historians on the Design Review Subcommittee considered submitted concepts. Several dozen designs were presented to a separate group of flag designers to create “flag ready” images.

In early September, about 20 flags will be scheduled for public feedback on the state’s More Than A Flag website. These designs will also be printed as flags for pop-up exhibitions and media events.

In the fall, the Design Review Subcommittee will select three final designs, and then the Task Force will propose the best design to be considered for adoption by the Utah Legislature in November.

A new flag rooted in history

The current state flag design is unlikely to disappear. In a nod to Utah history, the flag may be re-branded as the governor’s flag.

Utah’s state flag — which prominently features the state seal with two American flag panels and a large bald eagle, the state’s national symbol — is representative of a time when a young state wanted to be known for its national fervor, historians say.

A new flag design, state leaders say, is an opportunity to represent the state’s past, present and future.

Written by ELLEN FAGG WEIST, Public Information Officer for Utah’s Department of Culture and Community Engagement.

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Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2022, all rights reserved.

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