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Prayer Flags 1-2
Tibetan prayer flags created by students.

Messages of peace, empathy, justice, and inclusion waved in a string of banners along Johnson-Ward Pedestrian Walkway Tuesday as part of a public arts project to promote values important to the campus community.

The project, Prayer Flags for America, was organized by students in Print and Social Practices, a special topics course taught by Beauvais Lyons, Chancellor’s Professor in the School of Art. The multicolored flags were based on the tradition of Tibetan prayer flags, used in communities around the Himalayas to promote peace, compassion, and wisdom, among other concepts.

“This idea was intended to start conversations for how to appeal to values that are ideals whether or not you are religious,” Lyons said. “This forum allows us to imagine what our best wishes are for the world.”

Students in Lyons’s class initially wrote down dozens of concepts in their studio before selecting the 12 values they believed were the most relevant and applicable to the campus community: empathy, humility, harmony, patience, generosity, awareness, justice, creativity, integrity, reason, and inclusion. Each of the flags was designed and screen printed on fabric by a different student who selected an accompanying image, such as a lion for pride or a pair of boots for humility.

“It’s a clever way to integrate another culture’s traditions here at UT and to show our respect and appreciation for the concept,” said Tammy Castany, a first-year advertising student, who designed the pride flag. “These prayer flags are a way to share what we hope to see in our country and even on campus.”

Italian and art double major Grace Favier, who created the flag for justice, said she believes the assignment was a great opportunity for students of different backgrounds to come together.

“There is a flag for everyone, no matter their political views, economic background, gender, or race,” Favier said.

Lyons and his students have previously been involved in social projects. In 2017, students in his intermediate printmaking workshop created a mural for after-school program students at New Hopewell Elementary School. In March, his undergraduate students also created eight unique posters for the Hike the Heels event kicking off Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Lyons, as then president of the Faculty Senate, worked with the Campus Ministers Council and Student Government Association on February’s United at the Rock campaign.

Justin Lenton, the fourth-year graphic design student who designed the flag for inclusion—which was displayed first on each string—chose the Tibetan endless knot as his image. It was his reflection on society.

“In the endless knot, you need every piece to make a whole,” Lenton said. “Everyone must work together.”

After the afternoon display, each string of banners was taken down for students to take home.

CONTACT:

Brian Canever (bcanever@tennessee.edu, 865-974-0937)