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Visual artist Cruz Ortiz freaked out when he got the call from the Hillary Clinton campaign asking him to design a flag in support of her candidacy.
The flag Ortiz designed is a digital one that can be found using a link on Hillary Clinton’s website. It features the word “Ganas” among a handful of bent lines.
Ortiz told Fox News Latino that he chose the word because it means "desire" and is often used in songs about immigration.
“I barely know Spanish, but that’s the beauty of the language that only happens in the U.S. There’s this unique mix, interpretation and fluidity. To me ganas means, 'I’ve got to get up and make something happen for my family,'” he said.
(In fact, the word has another meaning as well, one equally appropriate to his project: "You win.")
Ortiz was born in Houston, Texas, but lives in San Antonio.
His father came to the U.S. from Monterrey, Mexico, and served in the U.S. Air Force. Ortiz's brother also served in the Air Force, and the artist talks about his father’s time as a prisoner of war and his brother’s military service as having given him an understanding of feeling “fully-American.” But that doesn't mean he isn't completely aware of himself being the son of an immigrant.
His mother, he says, describes herself as a Texan from when there were no borders.
“She says she and her family have always been here and living on a ranch in Texas,” Ortiz said.
Ortiz described his work as an expression of two themes. First, his ongoing need to find answers to nagging questions and, and second, the romantic notion of wanting to be with someone, and the extent to which humans will go to find love.
“My work is about movement and crossing borders," Ortiz said. "Also, a lot of my paintings have love song lyrics. It may sound cheesy, but it’s the stuff of Vicente Fernández.”
Other artists were also asked to create work for the campaign; including Carrie Mae Weems, Jenny Holzer and Cat Mazza.
Ortiz says all of the artists selected, including himself, create work dealing with political, social or spiritual issues.
It can't be overlooked that Ortiz is a Texas-based artist, and maybe part of the reason the Clinton campaign reached out to him for both the flag project and to create work for the Democratic National Convention in June is that the state, which has traditionally gone Republican in presidential elections, thanks to a large Hispanic population stung by Republican nominee Donald Trump's anti-Mexican rhetoric, is competitive this time around.
“I don’t have a problem with doing political artwork. My work is a reality of what I see and what I’ve gone through. As a high school art teacher for several years, I got to see first-hand how politics trickle down and what that means. When there are cutbacks, you got to see it,” Ortiz told FNL.
According to the Clinton campaign, Ortiz’s “Ganas” flag design is meant to “Reflect America’s rich diversity,” and “incorporate Mesoamerican design principles, along with patterns developed by Native American and African-America quilt makers.”