United We Stand - the Story
Updated: Jul 10, 2020
She is clothed in strength and beauty
and has no fear of the future.
I've had this passage from Proverbs 31 bouncing around in my head for a while as one that would work well for a shirt design, but I was having a hard time thinking of the right image. An iconic model was my first thought, but, no offense to Twiggy, that isn't the kind of strength and beauty the verse is necessarily promoting. The Statue of Liberty crossed my mind at one point, but I couldn't quite see how they fit together.
Then COVID-19 made its way through our borders and our worlds flipped upside down. Like so many other people, I was feeling stressed and overwhelmed by it all. My creativity took a major dive and I didn't have any desire to paint or any ideas that needed to be brought to life. In fact, my brushes from the last strokes to my rendition of Luther's Seal sat in a mug of water on my kitchen counter for over two weeks! That is the worst kind of brush abuse.
But as our borders closed and our businesses closed and the doors to our homes closed, something beautiful began to happen. People began to help each other. Food trains were established so people could be fed. Masks were sewn in homes so people could be safe. Teddy bears were placed in windows so that children could see joy. Creative ideas sprang up to keep small businesses afloat. Entire communities rallied together to support each other and show love to their medical teams and essential workers.
Despite the toilet paper shortage and conspiracy theories, I began to feel hope about the future of our country. I no longer felt like we were on the brink of falling apart; I knew that we were holding together and America would not fall. Her people are far too strong for that.
And then I thought of Proverbs 31:25 and how America was like the woman described there. Not the America that fights over political parties and gun laws and the right to life. I'm taking about America the Beautiful, with her majestic mountains and rolling farm lands. The America who comes together in times of crisis, whose communities band together. The America that I was seeing during these uncertain times. That's the America that is strong and beautiful and ready for the future.
And who better to represent America than the lady who is famously recognized as an iconic beacon of hope? The Statue of Liberty is shown here with her torch held high, lighting the way as she always does. But the hand grasping the torch is donned in a glove, just as her face is hidden by safety goggles and a mask. This attire serves two purposes; it is a tribute to our medical community who has stood strong amidst all the fear, as well as a recognition of the efforts made by all the citizens who have endeavored to keep themselves and others safe. Liberty's tablet is void of the traditional date of July 4th and instead bears the Roman numerals XXMM, marking the year 2020 which will forever stay carved in our minds, as well as an inscription of COVID-19, a term which has become all too familiar. Liberty's robes are shown in our nation's colors of red, white, and blue, as she's traded in her standard green copper for something more patriotic. The words of Proverbs 31:25 appear within the folds of her robe as a silent testament to what she represents. And finally, the pedestal on which she stands is inscribed with the hashtag #UnitedWeStand, a reminder of the reality of what is holding this country up.
I'd like to highlight the local small businesses that I'm partnering with, because they were each part of my inspiration:
Community Printing, Cloquet MN is producing my prints. I've worked with them in the past and know they do quality work, but also they really stepped up during the lock down. As soon as restaurants were told they had to close their dining rooms, Community Printing was offering to print take-out menus for local restaurants... free of charge. And when schools were closed through the end of the year, and high school seniors lost their graduation celebrations, Community Printing designed and printed beautiful yard signs so the whole community could show their support of our local kids. Big Frog, Duluth MN will be producing the shirts. While I would have used their services again without hesitation, their efforts to help others during the lock down impressed me. They came up with a way to help other small businesses by printing on-demand shirts with those businesses' logos. This provided an excellent opportunity for people throughout the Northland to support their favorite small businesses by purchasing a shirt (for which the company received a portion of the sales.) Those small business shirts are available here.
Finally, I'd like to recognize the business that first helped to pull me out of my "the world is ending" funk. B&B Market in Cloquet MN has been a shining light during these times. They became the main hub for a HUGE food train that started with a few pounds of ground beef and has grown to over $100,000* worth of monetary donations. They've been using this money to provide groceries for people throughout our community and it has been absolutely amazing to see. I think the owners are a true example of the American spirit and how we can come together care for ones neighbors.
$5 for every shirt/print sold during the month of June was donated to the food train.
*As of May 22, 2020