A Toast to World Peace

Toast to World Peace
Oil on Canvas, 54 x 60 inches, Winter 2018
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With my paintings depicting the peace sign I wanted to discuss what the peace sign means today and how that meaning has changed over the past 60 years. There’s a scene from the movie, Groundhog Day that illustrates my ideas surrounding this body of work. In this scene the main character, Phil (played by Bill Murray) is trying to initiate an intimate relationship with the female lead, Rita (played by Andie MacDowell). Because the day keeps getting repeated over and over again, he has the ability to correct any hiccups in the day. At a certain point they order drinks at a bar, and Phil toasts to the groundhog. Rita replies, “I always toast to world peace.” It then cuts to the next day where Phil makes a heartfelt toast to world peace. This is a seminal moment for me for two reasons. First, Phil’s insincerity and ulterior motives when he makes his toast can be paralleled with the history of the commodification of the peace sign, which, in part, has caused the demise of its agency for change. This leads into my second reason: this scene feels antiquated and highly improbable today because I consider the majority of Americans no longer believe in world peace or the prospect of a world without conflict and war. People no longer make toasts to world peace because if they did, they would be seen as being overly romantic and naïve. My peace sign paintings are a nostalgic reflection on an optimistic world-view. I made this work to illustrate my hope that we can one day regain a mass vision of a better world.