For the past two days, I have been ruminating on the color red. Or red as a symbol. I have had Les Miserables songs rolling through my head, and let’s not forget Taylor Swift’s so-named album. I have thought about being a redhead, communism, blood, Valentine’s Day, stop signs, wine, roses, and the age-old question of if my red is the same as your red.

This kind of thinking may sound bizarre out of context. To clarify, I have an assignment on deck to teach me how to use some video editing software in which I am to create a photo series on “red.” This has been one of those moments where I am certain I made the right decision to go back to school, even when I am drained from a week of full time work, the commute, and class.

I cannot remember the last time my brain was free to think this way. I have talked about it with colleagues, my husband, my parents. As it turns out, a color as simple as red is so complex on its own and carries with it ideological baggage, pain, delight, amusement, and so on. It wraps memories and when you close your eyes, the vibrancy of its nature will quickly fill your visions.

My approach for this project finally materialized when I thought about the American colors of red, white, and blue. Together, they form the American flag and a combination recognized around the world for its symbols of freedom, capitalism, patriotism, and of course the American dream. But when you just have one of the colors, red in this case, it is not complete. So, my photo series will be a mix of American flags around town and the brokenness of the American dream. I will juxtapose this solid symbol of hope with abandoned buildings, trash, pollution, day laborers lining up for job prospects, and so on. Once it is complete, I may share it here to spur further thought.

What does red mean to you?

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