Andrew Prekker had already brainstormed what might make its way into a new state flag when lawmakers earlier this year announced the creation of a commission tasked with picking new state emblems.
The Luverne, Minn., resident said he was thrilled when that commission last week picked his design — along with five others — to move forward in the selection process for a new flag.
MPR News spoke last week with a few other designers about their concepts and what led up to them. The public now has a chance to weigh in on the designs through an online comment area set up by the State Emblems Redesign Commission.
Prekker’s submission features the abstract shape of Minnesota at the flag’s left edge with an inset north star in white and bands of white, green and blue to the right. He spoke with MPR News this week about his design — flag No. 1953 — and its chances of moving forward.
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The conversation with Prekker has been edited for clarity and length.
What inspired your design?
Prekker: There were several inspirations behind my design. Other state flags known for their simplicity, memorability and popularity, such as Arizona, Texas, New Mexico and Colorado, were big inspirations in what I wanted to achieve. I’d say most of my inspiration came from Minnesota itself and all the rich history that supplied plenty of creative directions I could go. Our state’s motto “L’etoile Du Nord,” which means “star of the north” was the reason I incorporated a North Star into every version I made, including the finalist design.
Each color was chosen to symbolize a different important aspect of Minnesota and its identity. For the stripes, white represents snow/winter, the green stripe represents our beautiful nature and the importance of agriculture and the light blue stripe represents the several significant meanings of water to our state: as the land of 10,000 lakes, the birth state of the Mississippi River and the origins of our state’s name —which came from the Dakota language— which translates to “a place of sky-tinted water.”
Can you tell me about your process and why you decided to submit?
Funnily enough, I stumbled upon an online group called “Minnesotans for a better flag,” and was so intrigued by the idea that I decided to give it a go. I joined the designated Facebook group and shared my version of the state flag just for fun. About a week later the official Minnesota Emblems Redesign Commission was announced, and it felt like fate. So I jumped right in to making revisions.
The process was a long one. I spent many many hours creating 50-plus flag variations, researching Minnesota history, consulting vexillology groups (experts in flag design), as well as asking for a lot of advice from friends and family. It was important to me to try to make the best possible flag that I could.
I was drawn towards redesigning the flag for several reasons: Minnesota’s original flag is a complex seal on a blue background and is almost indistinguishable from 10 other midwestern state flags of the same design. And I thought it was important that our state finally had a flag that we could uniquely call our own.
But also, the imagery featured on the original flag, of an Indigenous person leaving the land while a colonizer farms it, is a problematic representation of our state. It’s not a unifying symbol for everyone, and I wanted to create a flag that our Indigenous communities and tribal nations could see representation in as well. With a recent trend of states redesigning their flags, I thought it was only time Minnesota deserves a beautiful, unique and representative flag that every Minnesotan could proudly fly from their doorsteps.
What has it been like following the State Emblems Redesign Commission’s process?
Following the committee’s process has been so exciting but also a little overwhelming. I remember being stunned at making the final 216 designs. It really didn’t hit me that I was a serious contender — or the significance of the whole opportunity — until I was watching one of the committee’s livestreams straight from the Capitol, as they taped my design up on the board for the six finalists.
What feedback have you received so far?
I’ve received loads of feedback on my design, mainly from the public. When it comes to my design, Minnesotans love the symbology behind the colors and that the swallowtail represents an abstract shape of Minnesota. Though they’re just as quick to point out their dislike of the shades of colors, as well as the order of the stripes. I haven’t gotten any direct feedback from the committee, though I have seen some of their proposed revisions, which include changing the color scheme, moving the stripe order, and changing the North Star to an eight-pointed star.
What would it mean to have your design selected as the new state flag?
It would mean so much to me if I won. It’s very rare that an individual gets an opportunity like this to help represent their state, to have a voice in what our new state flag should look like and to contribute to a historical moment in Minnesota history. It is such a privilege to be a part of it in any way. Regardless of the outcome, just being a part of the process has been so rewarding and exciting for me, but to actually win would be an honor beyond words could express.
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