Famed graphic artist Shepard Fairey has publicly announced his support for President Barack Obama.
Fairey is a street artist who originally gained cult status among graphic and graffiti artists for his work with wheat pasting and sticker tagging.
Wheat pasting is the practice of taking posters (in Fairey’s case the posters were of his original works) and affixing them to walls and signs using a wallpaper paste composed of water and wheat mixture.
Fairey gained national exposure and was launched into the professional art world with his 2008 “Progress” poster which featured the image of presidential candidate Barack Obama.
Fairey’s work was then officially used by the Obama presidential campaign. The campaign requested Fairey change “Progress” to “Hope” and the artist obliged.
After Obama won the election the Smithsonian Institution’s National Portrait Gallery acquired Fairey’s “Hope” version of the portrait and put it on display shortly before Obama’s inauguration.
Fairey’s recent letter highlighting why he’s voting for Barack Obama in 2012 originally ran as part of the essay project 90 Days, 90 Reasons, an initiative supporting the reelection of Obama. Reprinted in full by The Huffington Post, Fairey recalls in the letter why he initially created the piece and why he is voting for Obama again.
On why Obama is a better choice than Romney, despite feeling Obama did not live up to his expectations:
“I’m voting for Barack Obama, but not because of ‘Hope,’ the poster I made in 2008, or because of hopes, of which I can’t say mine have been particularly fulfilled. I’m voting for Barack Obama because I believe evolution is real and possible. I want to see this country move forward, not backward, and I know that four more years of Obama in office will have our country and our planet looking far more like the ones I want to see than a Romney presidency ever could.”
On choosing to create the now-iconic “Hope” image, which incited criticism from Fairey’s fans who felt the artist was betraying his counter-culture fan-base:
“I come from the worlds of skateboarding and punk rock, and the “Hope” poster was about as un-Jello Biafra as you can get. I didn’t make it because it fit my outsider image or my history as an antagonistic street artist. I made the poster because I care about the future for my kids, and I saw an opportunity within the only political system we’ve got to support someone unlike the people we usually get.”
Fairey also addressed the viewpoint of many of his young fans of voting-age who may believe voting is pointless:
“When I look at the accumulation of power by the oligarchy and the rise of the dog-eat-dog, kill-the-poor mentality, I see civilization, opportunity, and equality sliding backward. I love Devo, but I’m no fan of devolution. This is no time for idealistic posturing on the sidelines. The people who benefit most from your apathy certainly don’t want you to vote. If you’re as frustrated as I am, and you want to give a big F*CK YOU to someone, vote for Obama — and while you’re at it, vote some sane people into Congress, which has been more dysfunctional (thanks to the Tea Party) over the last two years than any other Congress in history — and give the middle finger to the Koch brothers, Karl Rove, Wall Street, and all the other powerful interests who want us to live in their world without any say for ourselves or any humanitarian regard for society’s least fortunate.”
Fairey further explained why he believes re-electing Obama is a better solution than electing Mitt Romney:
“Even if you’re cynical about Obama, look at the alternative. Mitt Romney has promised to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Romney will protect the power of the wealthy while straining the middle class further. Romney will increase military spending while schools lose funding. Under Romney, the Supreme Court would most likely move even further to the right. A more conservative Supreme Court would be disastrous for future prospects of repealing the Citizens United decision or any other future campaign finance reform, and could result in women losing their right to choose.”
Fairey closed his letter with a final appeal for others to vote for Obama:
“If you care like I do about the issues of: tax fairness, Wall Street regulation, green energy, fuel efficiency standards, climate change, education, infrastructure and infrastructure jobs, health care, and marriage equality, elect Obama and then push him and Congress to move these ideas forward.”
You can read Shepard Fairey’s endorsement of re-electing President Obama on The Huffington Post and on 90 Days, 90 Reasons, where you can read other essays by celebrities, writers and artists. What do you think of Fairey’s essay? Do you agree with his statements?