Faculty member participates in historic flag redesign process

Jeffrey Karp and new flag design.

A School of Dentistry faculty member took part in a historical effort to envision Minnesota’s future.

Jeffrey Karp, DMD, MS, director of the Pediatric Dentistry Residency Program and clinical associate professor of pediatric dentistry, first became interested in flag design after watching an 8 year old TED talk by Roman Mars, the host of the popular podcast, 99% Invisible. Then, while visiting Chicago, he took some time to appreciate the city’s flag, “a point of civic pride.”

“Interest peaked, I started reading, watching and listening to experts and enthusiasts who study the design and history of flags, called vexillology,” he explained. So when the call from the Minnesota State Emblems Redesign Commission (SERC) came out for public submissions of a new flag and seal design, Karp’s daughter knew he would be interested, and shared the news with him.

“As an aspiring vexillologist, I couldn’t pass up the chance to participate in this fun, creative and historically important civic initiative,” he reflected.

Karp submitted three flag designs. From more than 2,100 submissions, the commission first narrowed the pool down to 216 options. One of Karp’s flags made it to that round, with fewer than 10% of submissions.

Karp’s first submission—which made it to the group of 216 selections—“focuses on Minnesota’s stability, order, abundance, optimism, equality and hope,” featuring Minnesota blue and green, an eight-pointed star resembling a snowflake and a reference to the star encircled in the floor of the rotunda at the Minnesota State Capitol, and themes of 5 and 11, to symbolize Minnesota’s statehood day, May 11th. A second submission focused on “Minnesota’s natural and human made beauty in all parts of the state,” with a four-pointed star and inclusion of a shape representing the state’s borders, with a final submission highlighting “Minnesota’s four changing seasons, Minnesota’s nature, sunny skies and optimism.”

Karp enjoyed participating in the state’s flag design process. “In coming up with my designs, I’ve had a great opportunity to learn more about the history of Minnesota, our state’s symbols and other points of civic pride,” he explained. “I have enjoyed interacting online with other Minnesotans as they designed and submitted their flags for consideration by the commission.”

And while his submissions did not make it to the final round, Karp is happy to have taken part. “Minnesota has so many creative designers, makers and artists of all ages,” he said. “I was pleased to see that one of my designs was included in the selected group of 216 flags considered by the SERC during their 8-hour deliberation process. I really enjoyed this experience, and I look forward to participating in more flag design initiatives in the future.”