On the night of President Trump’s inaugural galas in Washington, Shepard Fairey opened his “American Civics” exhibition in Los Angeles.
The timing was intentional. The pieces of work, featuring images from the 1960s by the late photographer Jim Marshall, represent social issues including prison reform, poverty, voting rights and gun culture. The exhibit also features his “We the People” series, a response to Trump’s election that stylistically echoes the “Hope” posters he created more than eight years ago during Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign.
“We decided to work on a series about people most under fire and disparaged by Trump,” Fairey said about the posters, which feature a Latina, a Muslim American and an African American. The posters were given away at the women’s march in Los Angeles, where he was set to DJ with Moby and march alongside his wife and children.
Fairey believes that the creative world’s response to Trump’s first term as president will be powerful.
“Artists are used to getting by on a shoestring and not being welcome, so I think sometimes they perform best when they have to push back. I know I do,” he said. “I may not feel happy about what’s going on in the world, but I feel like there’s plenty to do when you’re under an oppressive administration.”
He strives to make art that is both “timely and timeless” — and, much like the pieces scattered throughout his exhibit, art that focuses on the human condition as it’s directly impacted by current events.
“Art has the potential to break through predisposition because it affects people emotionally, and it catalyzes conversations that wouldn’t happen otherwise,” Fairey said.
American Civics is running until Feb. 10 at the Subliminal Projects, located at 1331 W. Sunset Blvd.