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Saturday, September 15, 2012



Peter Hemmer's poster highlights the Defense Department's participation in National Hispanic Heritage Month. Graphic courtesy of the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute 
DOD Artist Creates Hispanic Heritage Month Poster
By Terri Moon Cronk
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 14, 2012 - When artist Peter Hemmer channeled his creative process to produce a poster highlighting the Defense Department's participation in this year's National Hispanic Heritage Month, he knew he wanted a one-of-a-kind design.

"I wanted to find something bright, colorful and vibrant," said Hemmer, an illustrator with the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute at Patrick Air Force Base, Fla.

"Every observance has challenges built into it," Hemmer said, noting he wanted this year's Hispanic Heritage Month poster to be different and interesting.

Hemmer said he didn't want to repeat what's been done in years past, or produce a poster "that's so specific, it alienates certain subgroups of that ethnic group."

He conferred with DEOMI research editor Dawn Smith to develop ideas for the Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 observance, which is themed, "Diversity United, Building America's Future Today."

The consistent factor Hemmer and Smith found in different Hispanic cultures was vibrant colors, they said.

"In the Hispanic population, some other strong qualities are embracing their past, family, celebration and tradition," Smith added.

And through her research for the culturally diverse observance, Smith found a common theme among the many Hispanic cultures: the traditional dress.

"She brought out some pictures of Latina dresses for fiestas, and I was struck by them," Hemmer said. "The more I looked at them, the more I thought about abstract shapes that showed motion. It came together fairly quickly."

In just two days, he said, he was finished with his acrylic abstract creation.

"My thought was that [the observance] encompasses such a huge group of people," Smith said, "we wanted to make sure we used something that spoke to the entire population of Hispanic Americans."

"Observances are designed to enhance cross-cultural awareness for harmony among all our military members, their families and our civilian work force," said Bryan Ripple, DEOMI public affairs officer.

Taking a bit of artistic license, Hemmer felt the poster should embrace the word "American" for Hispanic U.S. citizens.

"Although Hispanic people come from several different countries in the world, we honor them as valued American citizens," Ripple said of the poster's inclusion of the word "American."

"What I like about Pete's posters is they cause you to stop and look at them and contemplate what he's trying to do with his artwork," Ripple said, adding that the poster is made available to all federal government agencies.

An illustrator with DEOMI for more than 11 years, Hemmer said he often uses mixed media to design his creations, from paint and photography to sculpture and calligraphy.

Hemmer's work has become so popular, that DEOMI dedicated a "Diversity Hall" to display 53 framed pieces of his work -- each one measuring 30 inches by 40 inches, Ripple said.

"Doing this job is wonderful for me to be able to use my talent -- not only to create art, but to create art that's useful to other people and furthers DEOMI's mission," Hemmer said. "That's worth something."