A Note From Angie: Before I put up this post, I want to preface: This is not the typical type of post you will find here on Blessed Beyond Words. And it may stir up some controversy. However, the author of this post – and the artist behind the artwork seen in the post – is special to me, and I wanted to give him a platform to share his passion for his art. I hope that you will take a moment to read his thoughts about his piece entitled IOU. If you agree – or don’t agree – please keep your comments tasteful and respectful. I do not take kindly to mean, slanderous, or profanity-filled comments, and those will be deleted. I appreciate you taking the time to read about the piece this artist has created, and that you’ll check out his facebook page.
Every time I create a new picture I have some sort of ideal that inspired me. Sometimes it’s as simple as music or poetry, sometimes it’s other great artists, and sometimes it’s merely shock value. With “IOU” (also known as “I Own You”) it was a combination of the discontent of our country at the current time and politics in general as well as shock value. Like any artist, I want people to think when they look at a piece of my art. I would love to explain every picture I draw, but I’m not out to write a book, I want to both put my feelings on paper and encourage the free thinking of the public.
As soon as I had the idea of a Pop Art style picture of Uncle Sam and changing his typical “I Want You” moto to “I Own You,” I knew a lot of people were going to take offense to it. I put off doing the picture for a while, but I just couldn’t shake the idea. I even went as far as taking an unbiased poll on how the picture should be done, giving people three different ideas to choose from. Much to my surprise my original idea, the current picture, won by a landslide. That’s when I knew I had to get my message, and many other people’s feelings, out there for the public to see. Sadly, a strong political message turned into a strong showing of discontent and quick judgment by ignorant Americans.
Few know the history of Uncle Sam. Even fewer know the history of Brother Jonathan.
“As early as 1835 Brother Jonathan made a reference to Uncle Sam implying that they symbolized different things: Brother Jonathan was the country itself while Uncle Sam was the government and its power.”
(Morgan, Winifred (1988) An American icon: Brother Jonathan and American identity University of Delaware Press pg 81)
What I found really shocking though, was that no one mentioned the lack of our countries symbolic colors – red, white and blue – in “I Own You”.
“Charles Thompson, Secretary of the Continental Congress, reporting to Congress on the Seal, stated: “The colors of the pales (the vertical stripes) are those used in the flag of the United States of America; White signifies purity and innocence, Red, hardiness & valour, and Blue, the color of the Chief (the broad band above the stripes) signifies vigilance, perseverance & justice.”
Also this from a book about the flag published in 1977 by the House of Representatives…
“The star is a symbol of the heavens and the divine goal to which man has aspired from time immemorial; the stripe is symbolic of the rays of light emanating from the sun.””
With that said, I would like to explain the artists’ interpretation of this picture, and I must warn you that if you dislike the picture you will most likely dislike the explanation. Now that we have viable sources to relate to, we know that Uncle Sam is more a symbol of the government and its power, not the country itself or the military. That has been a huge misconception with this piece. In my opinion, the government has been striving to prove their power over the American people. Controversial laws have been presented and some even passed (i.e.; NDAA, SOPA and PIPA). I was overwhelmed with joy when the American people stood up against SOPA and PIPA, but at the same time I tend to wonder if it wasn’t because Facebook, Google, Yahoo and other internet powerhouses pushed them to. I say that because I was saddened when the updated version of the NDAA was passed and no one seemed to notice or care. I even wonder how many people know what the NDAA is and what it implies. It is apparent to me that the government is slowly making its way to gaining as much power and control over the people of this great Nation. That sets up a perfect segue to the explanation of the colors used in “IOU.”
I don’t believe that most people would hesitate to admit that the purity of our country is fading. That’s why I used very little white in the picture. I was not as hesitant to use red, because there is plenty of valour shown everyday through those bold and brave enough to fight for our freedom. The original pictures of Uncle Sam show him parading a blue jacket. I chose to blacken the jacket as symbolism of a lack of vigilance, perseverance and justice in today’s society while leaving hints of blue in hope of regaining what we once had. Uncle Sam’s hat, as portrayed in this picture, is black and blue, with blue highlights as the shading, adorned with a single star rather than multiple stars. The purpose behind this was to make a clear statement that the Chief should never be placed above the “symbol of the heavens and the divine goal to which man has aspired from time immemorial” which to me means not only the religious and other freedoms our country was founded on, but also the Constitution. I feel like the “divine goal” is the Constitutional rights on which our country was based and is slowly being ignored or forgotten.
All I can ask as an artist is that people look at all art with an open mind. With “IOU” it is imperative for me that people understand the symbolism which I attempted to portray; our government is getting too big and too powerful. I consider this message even more important with this being an election year. My hopes are that people around the country will keep their future as well as the future of their children and grandchildren in mind and do their own research on the political scene and our constitutional rights, and base their electoral decisions on what they find and what they feel when casting their ballot this November; not just what they hear on the news. Big government is not the answer, our freedom from a “Big Brother” is.
John Adam Nichols