If Shepard Fairey is not exactly following in the footsteps of Barbara Kruger and John Baldessari, he is driving in their lane. Fairey is the third high-profile L.A. artist who has signed on to participate in the “Arts Matter” public awareness campaign by the L.A. Fund for Public Education, which plasters artwork on city buses and billboards to help get their message out.
And his project has a twist. Instead of sitting down now to design a graphic to be reproduced in this way, Fairey is asking L.A. students for a phrase or line to inspire his visuals. The mission: “Tell us in your words what the world looks like when you take away the things that limit you.”
But he says there will not necessarily be a single winning entry. “It’s more a point of departure to get inspiration bouncing around. It might end up that there is one phrase verbatim that’s good to go, but it’s certainly not about saying George or Jose or Linda came up with this thing and announcing a winner... maybe it’s a mutation that works -- I just want to find a verbal-visual pairing that’s powerful.”
Fairey doesn’t have a personal connection to the LAUSD (his daughters are in private school and he went to a public high school near Charleston, S.C.), but he says he is a big believer in bringing visual arts, music and more creativity generally to the public-school curriculum -- the goal of the L.A. Fund. “That’s very much part of my philosophy: creativity should be democratized as much as possible,” he said.
According to the flier he designed, which shows a power station or school generating sparks that blossom into something bigger, responses will be accepted by twitter (#ArtsMatter to @LAFund), Facebook (www.facebook.com/lafund) or mail (The L.A. Fund for Public Education, Attn. Arts Matter, 10250 Constellation Boulevard, Suite 230, Los Angeles, CA 90067). The deadline is April 26.