Artist Shepard Fairey, a Charleston native, is perhaps best known for his Hope poster, the iconic (and, apparently, illegal) image used during President Obama’s 2008 campaign for president. The street artist took one of the buzzwords during that year’s election — hope — and affixed it to the face of the future president, portrayed in red, white, and blue. Fairey is also widely known around Charleston for his large murals currently located at spots like the warehouse complex on Upper King, where High Wire Distilling, Co. and The Daily are located.
The Huffington Post currently hosts an ongoing online project, If This Art Could Vote, which accepts submissions from any artist about his or her reflections on the current election season. Fairey’s submission, Two Americas, is part of a series of five pieces, American Civics, that explore five social issues — gun control, income inequality, mass incarceration, voting rights, and workers’ rights — utilizing photographs from late music photographer Jim Marshall. Learn more about American Civics here.
Two Americas, uses Jim Marshall’s 1963 photograph of a coal mining family to make a statement about income inequality. Fairey tells HuffPo, “I chose ‘Two Americas’ for the coal mining family [originally featured in Jim Marshall’s image] because the family of the coal miner was living in poverty but most likely the heads of the coal company were very wealthy. I think it is important to remind people that there are people who benefit from the dynamics of capitalism and people that suffer under those same dynamics.”
And how does Fairey feel about this current election, namely, what word would he use to describe voters’ feelings? He tells Huffington Post, “Bernie Sanders’ supporters including myself seem to be largely motivated by frustration with the dysfunction of politics as usual in the two-party system. I think ‘Frustration’ is a theme in 2016 when ‘Hope,’ ‘Change’ and ‘Progress’ were more positive themes in 2008.” Sanders supporter or not, Fairey also claims that he’s voting for Hillary Clinton this November, saying, “I’d vote for basically anyone over Trump.”
If you want to check out American Civics for yourself, you’ll have to book a flight to San Fran, where Fairey recently completed a mural of his poster, Workers Rights.
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