When you vote in November, you will likely receive a sticker from the Board of Elections. The picture shows the State House, sketched in blue, with a gold Independent Man standing triumphantly atop. It’s simple, but if you’re familiar with the neoclassical statue from the 1890s showing an anonymous person with a spear and anchor, you know the icon couldn’t be used in any other state.
The image was the winner of a design contest, hosted by the Board of Elections earlier this year. Its creator is Isaiah Suchman, a Wheeler School student who just finished his junior year. Suchman is precociously interested in politics; his essay about ranked voting was recently published in the Providence Journal. He also taught himself digital design, a process he calls “incredibly relaxing.”
“As an amateur-level graphic designer and student,” he says, “I don’t have a lot of opportunities to make my work useful to the public, so any opportunity to make something of real value is exciting.”
The contest was a confluence of several themes in Suchman’s life. He describes his family as “extremely politically informed and politically focused,” and his household is lively with talk of social issues. Suchman is a member of his school’s Model UN club and studies Mandarin. Before submitting his design, Suchman worked his way through 20 different drafts, focusing on a symbol that resonated with him.
“I’ve always felt a particular affinity for the Independent Man as a symbol of the state,” he says. “It represents the bold principle of speaking up against injustice upon which Roger Williams founded our state. I think that’s a powerful message for voters to be reminded of as they go to the polls to speak up for themselves.”