On November 4th, 2009, a year after the election of Barack Obama, artist Shepard Fairey was at the University of Southern California for a conversation entitled “Art, Culture, Politics.” Fairey lent the Obama campaign his artistic design skills by creating the imagery and layout of the “Hope” and “Progress” posters. This iconographical work, which now resides in the Smithsonian, was a crucial visual vehicle in Barack Obama’s mega-cultural ascendancy.
Fairey had been recognized as one of, if not the most prominent street artist in the United States, if not the world. His “Obey” poster campaign, featuring the image of Andre the Giant, drew its terminological inspiration from John Carpenter’s dystopic propaganda-critiquing film “They Live.” To some, it was an intriguing and/or irritating irony that an inherently suspicious street artist, who made his name on an art campaign drawn somewhat from a film quite distrustful of politicians and their words, would offer up his art to a banker-backed front-man involved in corporate-party politics.
The conversation at USC travailed swaths of his artistic work and included many of his opinions about the current political moment. Both during the Q+A and at the signing table afterwards, Fairey was open to talking about a whole array of topics including his approach to two-party politics, his take on the Obama Joker poster, and his own questioning of the validity of the 9/11 story. He also graciously and gratefully accepted information from the Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth, and was willing to autograph a glossy of his Andre the Giant “Obey” image, “To the 911 Truth Movement.”
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