Gov. Andrew Cuomo's 10th State of the State address had a lot of concepts — both big and small. The speech is thousands of words and the over-arching agenda fits into a small book of 318 pages. So, how can that be visually represented?
As he drafted the speech over the last three months, Cuomo was simultaneously designing a poster — a visual representation of where he views New York state at this point in time.
The result is a symbolic depiction of New York's ship of state in a stormy sea, beset by "squalls of hate," "intolerance," and "bigotry." The sails of the ship of New York include the words "tolerance," "leadership," and accomplishment."
Attached to the ship's stern are two flags representing the state Senate and Assembly. The ship itself is sailing directly into a wave.
There's also an octopus, a nod to the historic inspiration for the campaign picture used by William Jennings Bryan — the populist Democratic presidential candidate who depicted the mega-corporations of the day as a multi-tentacled menace. Cuomo is a political history buff.
But rising out of the sea is the Hudson River palisades, reaching toward the scales of justice. Each step of the palisades depicts a different accomplishment from the last 10 years; the legalization of same-sex marriage, investment in infrastructure, the DREAM Act, and election-law changes.
Passing over the palisades is an arching rainbow — "the arc of the moral universe." The two images sit side by side, but are in part meant to show the contrast of the times: New York is sailing through choppy waters of racism and uncertainty, but what matters are the accomplishments.
Cuomo himself designed how the poster should appear and then turned over the final colorwork and polishing to an artist paid by his campaign. The governor has distributed the poster to people at the Capitol as a reminder of where New York is in 2020.
Symbolism isn't stopping with the poster for the governor. He is also proposing the addition of the Latin phrase "E Pluribus Unum" — out of many, one — to the official state seal of New York.
This also isn't the first visual depiction Cuomo has drawn. During the 2010 campaign, Cuomo designed a similar poster depicting his campaign pledges, like no new taxes and a property tax cap. In 2012, a second and somewhat more elaborate and symbolic poster was designed depicting the new Tappan Zee Bridge — to be later named after his late father.
But the new picture is the most symbolic design yet. The poster for Cuomo serves as a visual reminder for what he wants to accomplish, and where New York finds itself in the new year.
It adopts the Leonard Cohen quote Cuomo used during his address as well: "Sail on, sail on, mighty ship of state, to the shores of need, past the reefs of greed through the squalls of hate."