“Exist at the same time or in the same place.”
“Exist in harmony despite different ideologies or interests.”

A few years ago I attended an anti-racism demo in London where thousands of people from all backgrounds, races and religions attended to show solidarity. I noticed a placard with the word ‘coexist’ drawn onto it, I had heard this word before but did not understand exactly what it signified. The sign features symbols of different religions or ways of life which are put together, side by side. This is what coexist represents, to live in harmony with one another.
“Every letter has a symbol that represents a system of thought: The crescent and star for Islam, the Star of David for Judaism, the Karma Wheel dotting the ‘I’ for Buddhism, the Tao symbol for Taoism and the cross for Christianity.”
Over the years there have been many variations of this popular image and people have recreated their own versions. Originally the coexist design was created by Polish, Warsaw-based graphic designer Piotr Młodożeniec in 2000 as an entry in an international art competition.
Now more than ever, to coexist is crucial, we are living in times where divisions are rife, we have world leaders who only seek to divide us further. Racist attacks are carried out openly and shamelessly, people will not associate with you because you are of a religion which has been misrepresented and tainted by media and society, so many things divide us, and so few bring us together. The essence of coexistence holds a lot of wisdom and I believe that now more than ever we need to practice coexistence amongst ourselves. It needs to be communicated in everything we do, we need to practice coexistence especially in the times we are living in. it is easier said than done, but it is crucial. Since I saw the placard at the demo it has inspired me in many different ways, attending demos and being around so many different individuals is an act of coexistence in itself.

4hbPhoto by Aisha Mirza

Since launching the Henna Boutique I wanted to create something special around the word ‘Coexist,’ my aim was to produce something that would inspire many people and give us all a sense of hope and togetherness. As I am a henna artist I wanted to create something that had themes of henna with reference to the original design by Piotr Młodożeniec, my goal was to create a streetwear item that exemplified and communicated the goal of coexistence. The sweatshirt I have created will hopefully inspire many different individuals and will be a perfect wear for many demos and protests, I aim to inspire in everything I do just how the image created by Piotr Młodożeniec inspired me.

“Do not let your assumptions about a culture block your ability to perceive the individual, or you will fail.”
― Brandon Sanderson, Words of Radiance

“So little is actually worthy of belief or disbelief. Better to strive to coexist than seek to disapprove . . .”
― David Mitchell, The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet

“Beneath the armor of skin/and/bone/and/mind
most of our colors are amazingly the same.”
― Aberjhani, Elemental: The Power of Illuminated Love

“There is no envy, jealousy, or hatred between the different colors of the rainbow. And no fear either. Because each one exists to make the others’ love more beautiful.”
“God has given us many faiths but only one world in which to co-exist. May your work help all of us to cherish our commonalities and feel enlarged by our differences.”
― Jonathan Sacks


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