Oakland Banners

My Story Is My Flag #1  / Oakland, California 2016

Participants: Oakland International Highschool / Commissioned by Interface Gallery

 The first My Story is My Flag was executed thanks to Interface Gallery with Oakland International High School students and teachers. Seven of the twelve banners were designed by the students and their teachers and Victor created five additional banners, extending the conceptual and visual impact of the project. The banners were displayed on light posts along the east side of Telegraph Avenue, from 45th Street to 51st Street, from June 14th to July 24th, 2016.

This project was undertaken during the students’ post session, an intensive three week session at the end of the school year. After learning about vexillology (the study of symbols and flags), the students worked in small collaborative groups to explore and represent their stories and aspects of their cultural and personal identities through shapes, colors and symbols. They then produced to-scale designs for the final banners, which were created by Victor.


Flag As Art and Identity At Oakland International High School, East Bay Express

KGPC Interviews: My Story Is My Flag

OIHS is a unique school in that it is specifically dedicated to serving very recent immigrants to the United States. The population includes students from over thirty countries who speak more than thirty-two different languages. Thirty-three percent of the students are refugees who have escaped violent conflicts in their home countries. The school is located in Oakland’s Temescal neighborhood.  

Interface Gallery is a non profit, contemporary art space located in the Temescal District of North Oakland, directed by Suzanne L’Heureux.   


Cuba America -  Cristina Victor
This is a simplified interpretation of the Cuban and American flag as one. I used the essential elements of both and used the gold background to represent my hopes for a gold future for the Cuban American and Cuban community.

Team Puppies: The Ubumwe - Diego,Mohammed, Mariam andOscar
This flag represents unity. The blue color on the top represents harmony because we should be one with the world and protect it. The yellow in the middle symbolizes happiness because in our life we should always smile even in the worst moments of our life. The red symbol in the middle represents unity as every human should work together in this world and is red because it represents passion or energy towards anything in our life. Finally, the color green on the bottom symbolizes life because the earth is green and we live on earth, so as we live on earth green represents our life here.

Team Eagles - Junior, Ahlam, Zachary and Angel
“The leaves represent us. There are four of us, Junior, Ahlam, Zachary and Angel, making this club. We are from different countries such as Burma, Yemen, El Salvador, Guatemala and the United States. We all came from different countries and speak different languages. We have different goals of what we want to accomplish.”            - Junior
“The star represents the dream because everybody has the dream that they want in their future. Each represents a dream that you can do something good. The color represents the equality, because humans have an equal species and opportunity. Not everything is perfect equality, sometimes you can face other, but can make everyone understand, it is already difficult, but worth doing if you want to do.” - Angel
“We chose the moon because it is the safest and most beautiful in the world.  It looks like light and makes a beautiful sky in the evening. And also sends Nirvana. “ - Ahlam
“We choose the color red to be on our flag because it represents passion, love, strength, and power. We as immigrants from all over the world bring a lot of diversity coming to the United States to achieve what we are passionate about. We have the strength and power to make change and make a difference in the country like equality, opportunity, and a lot of things. We have the the power to make change we want. We choose the color red and blue to be triangle because they represent equal opportunity. Meaning everybody has the right to do anything they want. Just like the moon and the star, they both shine in the dark to give us light." (Zachary)

Maza Victor - Cristina Victor
The forms are the negative space that remained from playing with the initials of my maternal and paternal last names.

Team OIHS Stars -  Asma, David, Leonardo, Maryium, and Yorleni
The circle represents gender equality. The red color shows love. The blue color demonstrates happiness. The black color represent negativities, especially about women. We show this color because people says a lot of negative things about women, so we used black color to show that women also deserve a special place. The white color portrays peace. We used the yellow color for hope to bring changes in the world by creating this peaceful flag. And the way all the pieces come together it is a peace symbol.

“Ms. Madenh” - Madenh Ali Mohsen
I am the daughter of Yemeni immigrants. Currently I teach American History at Oakland International high school and one of the things I love most about my school is my students and the rich history they share.

The story of immigrants and the children of immigrants are multifaceted and my flags represent the many doors we enter living those lives. Yemeni doors are traditionally arched and I wanted that represented in my flag as well as the calm of the blue sky and the moon. The duel arches represent my identity as an American and as a Yemeni and the balance and merger of the two lives.

The moon is an important symbol in Islam; it determines the beginning and end of a month. Its beauty and the power it posses with nature fascinates me. The black and yellow geometric structure represents the Kabah, which is a building at the center of Islam's most sacred mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. It is the most sacred Muslim site in the world and Islam is an important part of my life.

Ro/Cri - Cristina Victor
This flag is about love, friendship and resilience. The forms and colors are all quite different from each other but some how find a way to coexist, play and contradict each other.

Team Samfirc - Firtuna, Safanah, Cecilia, Mario
The flag our group made has a tree, heart, and eye, with four different colors. The tree represents family which is full of love as represented by the red heart. The blue lines at the bottom of the the tree represent the flag of El Salvador. The eye shows the bright future for the family. The root of the tree represents the strength in the family.

Play the Rule Breaker - Cristina Victor
Though I love and am fascinated with vexillology, I often find the rules within flag design to feel constricting. This flag is my rebellion. Made of the scraps of all the other flags I sewed for this project, I arranged them haphazardly, used as many colors as possible and left seams exposed to purposefully make a flag that broke rules of flag design.

Abi, la luna y yo -  Cristina Victor
This flag illustrates my loving relationship with my grandmother. Though we live far from each other, our obsession and observance of the moon has always connected us.

Team Rocker Soccer - Suado, Urias, and Aiyuan
“The green tree represents that we are all a family as we are all the same, though we came from different countries.” - Suado
“The yellow line represents growth in our family.” - Urias Gonzalez
“The black color represents the future because we can't see the future. We don't know what will happen.” - Aiyuan “The blue border represents the peace in our families. Also it presents oceans because our home countries are close to oceans.” - Suado, Aiyuan, Urias


We would like to express our gratitude to the Oakland International High School staff for helping manifest this project and especially, Tygue Luecke and Madenhali Hassan for helping plan a great curriculum around it! This project was made possible in large part by a grant from The East Bay Fund for Artists at the East Bay Community Foundation.  We have also received generous support from the Temescal Business Improvement District, as well as from the businesses and individuals listed below.  We are so grateful for their support!

Aunt Mary's
Bakesale Betty's
JUHU Beach Club
Preserved Goods
Ruby's Garden
Temescal Square
The Wine Mine
Adela Toledo
Annie Ledbury
Brad Weinrieb
Cate Nelson
Catherine Coates
Clare Crisafi
Conrad L'Heureux
Cris Jaffe
David L'Heureux
David Sharp
Diane Winters
Don Stahlhut
Douglas Williams
Eleanor Vohryzek
Elizabeth Cooper
Ellen Kim
Jennifer Ray
Jerilyn Shahoian
Jonathan Lowell
Kyoko Bristow
Lea Stotland
Lee Hunter
Lisa Haney
Lucy Carmichael
Matt and Tamar Bury-Schnepp
Mike Napolitano
Mitchell Heinrich
Miye Takagi
Myra Mendible
Natalie Riha
Nicholas Sher
Norton and MaryAnn Carlson
Paula Freedman
Penny Rank
Perry Riani, Pacific Union International Real Estate
Ron Kriss, Lawton Associates Real Estate Brokerage
Sonia Otalvaro
Sue Mark
Susan L'Heureux
Walter Acuna
Whitney Brandt-Hiatt

...and so many more anonymous donors!

Thank you! Thank you!

Interface Gallery is a member of Intersection for the Arts, a 501(c)3 non-profit providing artists with resources, cultural space,and community to develop sustainable practices.